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Bible Commentaries

John Owen Exposition of Hebrews
Hebrews 3

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

Verse 1-2

Hebrews 3:1-2. ῞οθεν, ἀδελφοὶ ἅγιοι, κλήσεως ἐπουρανίου μέτοχοι, κατανοήσατε τὸν ἀπόστολον καὶ ἀρχιερέα τῆς ὁμολογίας ἡμῶν, χριστὸν ᾿ιησοῦν· πιστὸν ὄντα τῷ ποιήσαντι αὐτὸν, ὠς καὶ ΄ωυσῆς ἐν ὅλῳ τῷ οἴκῳ αὐτοῦ.

The Vulgar leaves out χριστόν, “Christ;” all ancient copies and translations beside retain it.

῝οθεν, that is, “unde,” properly “from whence.” But these words are used as illatives; as “proinde,” “itaque,” “quamobrem,” “quocirca” “quare;” all which are made use of by translators in this place, — “wherefore.” Respect is had unto the preceding discourse, from whence the apostle infers his ensuing exhortation: ‘Seeing that things are thus, that the author of the gospel is such an one as hath been described.’ κλήσεως ἐπουρανιου, “vocationis coelestis,” “of the heavenly calling.” Syr., שְׁמַיָּא דְּמֵן, “which is from heaven.” Some render it, “supra- coelestis,” “above the heavens;” as ἐπιχθόνια are things upon the earth, and so above it. And Plato, Apolog. Socrat., opposeth τὰ ὑπὸ γήν, “things under the earth,” and τὰ ἐπουράνια, “things above the heavens.” And this word is almost peculiar unto our apostle, being used frequently by him in this and his other epistles, and but twice besides in the whole New Testament, Matthew 18:35; John 3:12. See 1 Corinthians 15:40; 1 Corinthians 15:48-49; Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 1:20; Ephesians 3:10; Ephesians 6:12; Philippians 2:10, 2 Timothy 4:18; Hebrews 6:4; Hebrews 8:5; Hebrews 9:23; Hebrews 11:16; Hebrews 12:22. And as he useth this word frequently, opposing it to ἐπίγαιος, so he expresseth the same thing in other words of the same signification: Philippians 3:14, ἥ ἄνω κλήσις, “the supernal calling;” that is, ἐπουράνοις. For οὐρανός, saith Aristotle, de Mund., is τοῦ κόσμου τὸ ἄνω, θεοῦ οἰκητήριον, “that of the world which is above, the dwelling-place of God.” And as our apostle opposeth τὰ ἐπουράνια, “heavenly things,” so he doth also τὰ ἄνω, “things above,” absolutely, unto τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, “things that are on the earth,” Colossians 3:1-2. This phrase of speech is therefore the same, and peculiar unto our apostle. And both these expressions denote God, the author of this callings, who is אֵל מִמָּעַל, Job 31:28, “God above ;” θεὸς ἐπὶ πάντων, “God over all,” Ephesians 4:6; ἐπουράνοις, “heavenly,” Matthew 18:35.

΄έτοχοι, “participes,” “partakers;” “consortes,” Beza. To the same purpose, Syr., דְּאחְקְרִיתוּן, “who are called with an holy calling,” omitting the force of this word, intended to express their common interest in the same calling. The signification of this word was declared on Hebrews 2:14. The matter intended is fully expressed by the same apostle,Ephesians 4:4, ῞εν σῶμα καὶ ἕν πνεῦμα, καθὼς καὶ ἐκλήθητε ἐν μιᾷ ἐλπίδι τῆς κλήσεως ὐμῶν, — “One body and one Spirit, even as ye were called in one hope of your calling;” that is, partakers of and companions in the same heavenly calling.

κατανοήσατε, “considerate,” “contemplamini,” — “consider,” “meditate on.” κατανοέω is properly “animadverto,” — to set the mind diligently to mark and consider, so as to understand the thing considered; whence it is often rendered (as by Cicero) by “intelligo,” and “perspicio,” “to understand,” and “perceive.” See Romans 4:19, where it is denied of Abraham. “Consider diligently.” τὸυ ἀπόστολον, “apostolum, “legatum,” — “the apostle,” “legate,” “ambassador.” Syr., שְׁלִיחָה חָנָא “hune apostolum,” “this apostle.” He is so only; he that was “sent of God,” namely, to the work of revealing him by the gospel. And by a periphrasis hereof he often describes himself, calling his Father τὸν ὐποστείλαντα, “ him that sent him.” Ethiopic, “apostolum vestrum,” “your apostle.”

τῆς ὀμολογίας ἡμῶν, “et pontificem,” “and the high priest,” or “chief priest;” Syr., כּוּמָרֵא רַב, “prince of priests;” whereof we have spoken before, Hebrews 2:17. ῾ομολογία is properly a “joint agreement,” “consent,” or “concurrence” in the declaration of anything. It is used also in good authors for a “convention,” “covenant,” or “agreement.” Syr., דְּתַיְדִיחַן,” of our confession;” and so the Vulgar, “confessionis nostrae:” both with respect unto the Greek translation of the Old Testament, wherein יָרָהin Hiphil, signifying properly “to celebrate,’’“to praise,” to set forth praise by words, is constantly rendered ἐξομολογέω, “to confess.” Hence these words of our apostle, 2 Corinthians 9:13, δοξάζοντες τὸν θεὸν ἐπὶ τῇ ὑποταγῇ τῆς ὁμολογίας ὑμῶν εἰς τὸ ἐυαγγέλιον τοῦ χριστοῦ, are rendered by the Vulgar, “Deum glorificamus quod subjecti sitis confessioni evangelii;” — “We glorify God that you are subject to the confession of the gospel;” very imperfectly, and without any clear sense. “The subjection of your profession” is a Hebraism for “professed subjection,” as ours well render the words. ῾ομολογέω is but once used in the New Testament for to “confess,” 1 John 1:9, any otherwise than as to confess is coincident in signification with to profess or make profession. And this hath obtained in common use; whence the doctrines that men profess, or make profession of, being declared, are called their confession, or the confession of their faith. So our apostle calls it τῆν καλὴν ὁμολογίαν, “that good confession,” 1 Timothy 6:12-13; and absolutely τὴν ὁμολογίαν, “profession,” Hebrews 4:14 of this epistle; and τὴν ὁμολογίαν τῆς ἐλπίδος γίαν, Hebrews 10:23, “the profession of hope.” And it is to be observed that this word also is peculiar unto our apostle, and by him frequently used. It is public or joint profession. Some copies of the Vulgar read “vestra,” “your” profession, but without countenance from ancient copies or translations.

τῶ ποιήσαντι αὐτόν, “facienti ipsum,” “ei qui fecit ipsum,” — “to him that made him.” Some Socinians from these words would prove that Christ is a mere creature, because God is said to make him. But it is not of the essence or nature of Christ that the apostle treateth, as Schlichtingius himself acknowledgeth, but of his office and work. See Acts 2:36, κύριον καὶ χριοτὸν αὐτὸν ὁ θεὸς ἐποίησε, — “God hath made him both Lord and Christ;” the same with ἔθηκε, Hebrews 1:2, — he hath “made,” “appointed,” “designed,” “exalted” him. So in the Hebrew, עָשָׂה, “fecit,” “he made,” is used and applied 1 Samuel 12:6, אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה אֶתאּמשֶׁה וְאֶתאּאַהֲרוֹן which the LXX. render, ὁ ποιήσας τον ΄ωυσῆν, “who made Moses and Aaron;” that is, גָּדַל or רוֹמֵם, “raised up,” or “exalted,” or “appointed them,” — that is, to their office. For whom God raiseth up or exalteth, he doth it unto some work and service; and whom he appointeth unto any service, he doth therein exalt.

Hebrews 3:1-2. — Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider [diligently] the apostle and high priest of our profession, Christ Jesus, who was faithful [being faithful] to him that appointed him [made him so], even as Moses in all his house [in his whole house.]

The apostle in these two verses entereth upon the application of the doctrine which he had declared and confirmed in the two foregoing chapters. Herewithal, according to his constant method in this epistle, he maketh way for what he had further to deliver of the same nature and importance.

The first word respects that which went before, “wherefore,” or, ‘seeing things are as I have manifested, — namely, that he of whom I speak unto you is so excellent and so highly exalted above all, and that whereas he was humbled for a season, it was unspeakably for the benefit and advantage of the church, — it cannot but be your duty to consider him; that is, both what he is in himself, and what he is unto us.’His design is to press upon them his general exhortation unto constancy and perseverance in the profession of the gospel; but he doth not express it in these verses, insisting only upon an intermediate duty, subservient unto that principally intended. Now, this is their diligent consideration of Jesus Christ, with what he had delivered concerning him, and what he was yet further to declare unto them. And this he urgeth as the only way whereby they might be prevailed on unto and assisted in the stability aimed at. This is the connection of his discourse and the intention of his inference; whence observe, that, —

I. All the doctrines of the gospel, especially those concerning the person and offices of Christ, are to be improved unto practice in faith and obedience.

This course our apostle insists on: having before laid down the doctrine of the person and offices of Christ, here he applies it unto their duty and establishment in the profession of the truth. These things are not revealed unto us only to be known, but to be practically used for the ends of their revelation. We are so to know Christ as to live to him in the strength of his grace, and unto the praise of his glory. “If ye know these things,” saith he, “happy are ye if ye do them,” John 13:17. It is our privilege to know them, a great privilege; but it is our blessedness to do them. When men content themselves with the notion of spiritual things, without endeavoring to express their power and efficacy in the practical conformity of their minds and souls unto them, it proves their ruin. That word which is preached unto us ought to dwell in us. See what it is to “learn Christ” in a due manner, Ephesians 4:20-24. There is a miserable profession, where some preach without application, and others hear without practice.

To hear that we may learn, to learn that we may learn, is but part of our duty; indeed, in and for themselves no part of it. To hear and to learn are good, but not for themselves, for their own sake, but only for the practice of what we hear and learn. The apostle tells us of some who are “always learning, but are never able to come εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν ἀληθείας,” 2 Timothy 3:7; that is, to a practical acknowledgment of it, so as to have an impression of its power and efficacy upon their souls. And such are some who are πάντοτε μανθάνοντες, — such as make it their business to hear and to learn, so that they scarcely do any thing else. Gospel truths are “medicina animae,” — physic for a sin-sick soul. Now, of what use is it to get a store of medicines and cordials, and never to take them? No more is it to collect, at any price or rate, sermons, doctrines, instructions, if we apply them not, that they may have their efficacy in us and proper work towards us. There is in some a dropsy of hearing; — the mere they hear, the more they desire. But they are only pleased with it at present, and swelled for the future, — are neither really refreshed nor strengthened. But every truth hath, as the Hebrews express it, ציד בפיו, “meat in its mouth,” something for our own nourishment. We should look unto sermons as Elijah did to the ravens, that “brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening,” 1 Kings 17:6. They bring food with them for our souls, if we feed on it; if not, they are lost. When the Israelites gathered manna to eat, it was a precious food, “bread from heaven, angels’meat,” food heavenly and angelical, — that is, excellent and precious; but when they laid it up by them, “it bred worms and stank,” Exodus 16:20. When God scatters truths amongst men, if they gather them to eat, they are the bread of heaven, angels’food; but if they do it only to lay them by them, in their books, or in the notions of their mind, they will breed the worms of pride and hypocrisy, and make them an offensive savor unto God. When, therefore, any truth is proposed unto you, learn what is your concernment in it, and let it have its proper and perfect work upon your souls.

Secondly, In the manner of his pressing his exhortation two things occur: —

1. His compellation of them, in these words, “Holy brethren.”

2. His description of them by one property or privilege, “Partakers of the heavenly calling.”

1. In the former, two things also are observable:

(1.) The appellation itself which he makes use of, “Brethren.”

(2.) The adjunct of that appellation, “Holy.”

(1.) This term of relation, “brethren,” is variously used in the Scripture; sometimes naturally, and that most strictly, for children of the same father or mother, Genesis 42:13; or more largely for near kinsmen (and among the Hebrews the descendants of the same grandfather are almost constantly so called; whence is that expression of the brethren of our Lord Jesus Christ, who were descendants of his grandfather according to the flesh, Genesis 13:8; Genesis 24:27; Matthew 12:46; Matthew 13:55; Mark 3:31; John 2:12; John 7:3; John 7:5; John 7:10; Acts 1:14,): or, in analogy thereunto, for all the branches of one common stock, though a whole nation, yea, though of many nations. So all the Hebrews were brethren, Deuteronomy 15:12; and the Edomites are said to be their brethren, because of the stock of Abraham, Deuteronomy 23:7. And in this sense, in another place, our apostle calls all the Jews his brethren; that is, his kinsfolk in the flesh, Romans 9:3. Sometimes it is used civilly, and that,

[1.] On the mere account of cohabitation, Genesis 19:7;

[2.] Of combination in some society, as,

1st. For evil, Genesis 49:5;

2dly. For good, Ezra 3:2.

And sometimes it expresseth a joint profession of the same religion; on which account the Jews called themselves brethren all the world over, Acts 28:21. Lastly, It is also an expression of spiritual cognation, founded on that of our Savior, “All ye are brethren..... and one is your Father, which is in heaven,” Matthew 23:8-9. And herein is an allusion to the first, proper signification of the word. That men be brethren, properly and strictly, it is required that they have one father, be of one family, and be equally interested in the privileges and advantages thereof. This is the nearest bond of alliance that is or can be between equals, the firmest foundation of love. And thus it is with those who are brethren spiritually, as will afterwards appear.

Now, though the apostle stood in the relation intimated with the Hebrews upon a natural account, yet he here calls them brethren principally in the last sense, as spiritually interested in the same family of God with himself; although I am apt to think that in the use of this expression to the Jews the apostle had respect also unto that brotherhood which they had among themselves before in their ancient church-state. So Peter, writing to some of them, tells them that the same afflictions which they suffered would befall τῇ ἐν κόσμῳ ὑμῶν ἀδελφότητι, “the whole brotherhood of them in the world,” 1 Peter 5:9; that is, all the believing Jews. And whereas they had a particular and especial mutual love to each other on that account, our apostle warns them that they should not think that that relation or love was to cease upon their conversion to Christ, Hebrews 3:1 : ῾η φιλαδελφία μενέτω, — ‘Let that brotherly love continue which hath been amongst you.’ But principally I suppose he respects their new relation in Christ; which further appears from the adjunct of this compellation annexed, “holy.”

(2.) “Holy.” This is the usual epithet wherewith our apostle adorns believers, Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Philippians 1:1. And in many places he joins their calling with it, which here he subjoins unto it. And this is peculiar to Paul. What he means by ἅγιοι, “holy,” he declares, where he terms the same persons ἡγιασμένοι, “sanctified ones,” 1 Corinthians 1:2; Ephesians 5:26; 1 Corinthians 6:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; John 17:19. He accounted them holy, not upon the account of an external separation, as of old all the people were holy, but also of internal, real sanctification and purity. This he judged the professing Hebrews to be interested in, as being “called by an holy calling.” And it may be, in the present use of this expression, he hath respect unto what he had before affirmed of believers, namely, their being ἀγιαζόμενοι, “sanctified,” or made holy by Christ, Hebrews 2:11; considering that from thence he infers their relation unto Christ as his brethren, Hebrews 2:12, and so becoming in him brethren to one another, even all of them ἀδελφότης, “a brotherhood,” or “fraternity,” 1 Peter 5:9. And by this compellation of “holy brethren” doth the apostle manifest his high regard of them or respect unto them, looking on them as persons sanctified by the Spirit and word of Christ, and a dear affection for them as his brethren. By this treatment also of them he gives a great evidence of his sincerity in dealing with them; for they might not fear that he would impose any thing on them whom he honored as holy, and loved as brethren. And hereby he smooths his way to his ensuing exhortation.

2. He describes them from their calling, κλήσεως ἐπουρανίου μέτοχοι. This is usual with our apostle: “Called to be saints” — ‘‘Sanctified in Christ Jesus.” And this calling or vocation he first describes by its quality; it is heavenly,” or “super-celestial;” or, as elsewhere, “the calling that is from above:” and then ascribes an interest unto them therein. And he calls it “heavenly,”

(1.) From the fountain and principal cause of it; that is, God, even the Father, which is in heaven. As our election, so our calling is in an especial manner ascribed unto him, 1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; Romans 8:28-30; 1 Peter 1:15; 1 Peter 2:9; 1 Peter 5:10; Philippians 3:14; Galatians 5:8 : for no man can come unto the Son, unless the Father draw him. Believers, indeed, are termed κλήτοι τοῦ ᾿ιησοῦ χριστοῦ, Romans 1:6, — “The called of Jesus Christ;” that is, to him, not by him; or, by him as executing the counsel and dispensing the grace of the Father, 2 Corinthians 5:20.

(2.) In respect of the means whereby this calling is wrought, which are spiritual and heavenly, namely, the word and Spirit, both from above, John 16:7-11 : for the word of the gospel is on many accounts heavenly, or from heaven; whence our apostle calls it “the voice of him that speaketh from heaven,” Hebrews 12:25. And Christ, who is the author of it, is called “The Lord from heaven,” 1 Corinthians 15:47; and that on this account, that he who was in heaven came down from heaven to reveal the gospel, John 3:13; John 6:38. And so also the Spirit is poured out from above, being given of Christ after he was ascended into heaven, Acts 2:33.

(3.) Of the end also; which is to heaven and heavenly things, wherein lies the hope of our calling, Ephesians 1:18; Ephesians 4:4. So that effectual vocation from God above, in his grace and mercy by Jesus Christ, is here intended.

Herein the apostle assigns a participation unto these Hebrews; they were “partakers” of it, had an interest in it, — together with himself were so called. And this he doth for several reasons: —

(1.) That he might manifest wherein their great privilege consisted, and which, as such, they were to value. They were apt to boast of the privileges they enjoyed in their Judaism, John 8:33, Romans 2:17-18; which also were great, Romans 3:1-2; Romans 9:4-5 : but they were all of no esteem in comparison of what they had now obtained an interest in, by the grace of Jesus Christ, in their high, holy, and heavenly calling. This he manifests in the instance of himself, Philippians 3:4-9. The call of Abraham, which was the foundation of all their privileges in their Judaism, was but an earthly call, — on the earth and to the earth; but this is every way more excellent, being heavenly.

(2.) To set forth the grace of God towards the Jews, and his own faith concerning them, that they were not all rejected of God, notwithstanding the hardness and obstinacy of the most of them, as Romans 11:2; Romans 11:4-5. And, on the other hand, he insinuates that they were not to make an enclosure of this privilege, like those wherewith of old they were intrusted. The Gentiles being fellow-heirs with them therein, they were “partakers” with others in this “heavenly calling;” as Ephesians 3:6.

(3.) He declares his own communion with them in that great privilege, whereby they might understand his intimate concernment in their state and condition.

(4.) He minds them of their duty from their privilege. Being partakers of this calling unto Christ, it must needs be their duty diligently to “consider” him; which he exhorts them unto. But we may make some observations on the words unfolded already.

II. Dispensers of the gospel ought to use holy prudence in winning upon the minds and affections of those whom they are to instruct.

So dealeth Paul with these Hebrews. He minds them here of their mutual relation; calls them brethren; ascribes unto them the privileges of holiness and participation of a heavenly calling; — all to assure them of his love, to remove their prejudices against him, and to win upon their affections. And, indeed, next unto our Lord Jesus Christ himself, he is the most signal pattern and example of holy wisdom, tenderness, companion, and zeal, unto all ministers of the gospel. The image of his spirit, expressed in his instructions given unto his two beloved sons, Timothy and Titus, sufficiently testify hereunto. Yea, so great was his wisdom and condescension in dealing with his hearers, that seducers and false apostles took occasion from thence to say, that being crafty he caught them with guile, 2 Corinthians 12:16. The words are an objection of his adversaries, not a concession of his. He shows how in all things he was tender towards them, and put them neither to charge nor trouble. Hereunto he supposeth a reply by the false apostles: ῎εστω δὲ, ἐγὼ οὐ κατιβάρησα ὑμᾶς ἀλλ᾿ ὑπάρχων πανοῦργος, δόλῳ ὑμᾶς ἔλαβον· — “Be it so, that I myself did not burden you, nor put you to charge, yet being every way crafty, I took you by deceit.” This is their reply unto his plea, and not any concession of his; for both the words, πανοῦργος and δόλος, are such as will admit no interpretation in a good sense, so that the apostle should ascribe them unto himself. But wherein did that craft and deceit consist which they would impute unto him? It was in this, that though he himself put them to no charge, he burdened them not, yet when he was gone, and had secured them unto himself, then he sent those to them which should receive enough for him and themselves. Unto this calumny the apostle replies, 2 Corinthians 12:17-18, showing the falseness of it. “Did I,” saith he, “make a gain of you by any of them whom I sent unto you?” This was that which was imputed unto him, which he rejects as false and calumnious. And he confirms what he says by an especial instance: “I desired Titus, and with him I sent a brother. Did Titus make a gain of you? walked we not in the same spirit? walked we not in the same steps?” So that this reproach is every way false, and such as may be evicted so to be. And this is the true sense of this place. This was not his way. But this he always did, and on all occasions, — he testified unto them his great affection, his readiness to spend and to be spent for them, 2 Corinthians 12:14-15. His gentleness towards them, — cherishing them as a nurse cherisheth her children, 1 Thessalonians 2:7, or as a father his, 1 Thessalonians 2:11, — forewent that which in earthly things was due to him by the appointment of Christ, that he might no way burden them, 2 Corinthians 11:9-11, Acts 20:33-35; enduring all things for their sakes, 2 Timothy 2:10, — amongst which were many able to make the stoutest heart to tremble. His care, pains, travail, watchfulness, patience, love, compassion, zeal, who can declare or sufficiently admire! By these means he removed or rendered ineffectual the great peddle of forsaking Judaism, kept up a regard in his hearers against the insinuations of seducers and false apostles, raised their attention, prepared them every way for instruction, and won them over to Christ. Blessed Jesus! what cause have we to mourn when we consider the pride, covetousness, ambition, wrath, negligence, self-seeking, and contempt of thy flock, which are found amongst many of them who take upon themselves to be dispensers of thy word, whereby the souls of men are scandalized and filled with offenses against thy holy ways every day!

III. Believers are all related one unto another in the nearest and strictest bond of an equal relation. They are all brethren, “holy brethren.”

So the Holy Ghost calls them in truth; so the reproaching world calls them in scorn. They have “one Father,” Matthew 23:8-9; one elder Brother, Romans 8:29, who is “not ashamed to call them brethren,” Hebrews 2:11; and have “one Spirit, and are called in one hope of calling, Ephesians 4:4, — which being a Spirit of adoption, Romans 8:15, interesteth them all in the same family, Ephesians 3:14-15, whereby they become “joint-heirs with Christ,” Romans 8:17. The duties of unity, love, usefulness, and compassion, which depend on this relation, are more known than practiced, and ought to be continually pressed, Psalms 133:1; Hebrews 13:1. Of old, indeed, the Pagans spake proverbially of the Christians, “See how they love one another!” in a way of admiration. The contrary observation hath now prevailed, to the shame and stain of the profession of these latter days. What through dissensions and divisions amongst them who have any real interest in the privilege of sonship; what through an open, visible defect as to any relation unto God as a father, or unto the Lord Christ as an elder brother, in the most of them that are called Christians, — we have lost the thing intended, and the name is become a term of reproach. But when iniquity abounds, love will wax cold. In the meantime, it were well if those who are brethren indeed could live as brethren, and love as brethren, and agree as brethren. The motives unto it are great and many. That mentioned in the business of Abraham and Lot seems to me of weight: Genesis 13:7-8,

“There was a strife between the herdmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdmen of Lot’s cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelt then in the land. And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be men that are brethren.”

Abraham and Lot were brethren naturally, as near kinsfolk, for Abraham was Lot’s uncle; and spiritually, as the children of God. A difference happening between their herdmen, Abraham, as a wise man, fears lest it should proceed to some distance and variance between themselves. Thereupon he takes into consideration the state of things in the place where they were. “The Canaanite and the Perizzite,” saith he, “are in the land;” — ‘The land is full of profane men, enemies to us both, who would rejoice in our divisions, and take advantage to reproach the religion which we profess.’This prevailed with them to continue their mutual love, and should do so with others. But our condition is sad whilst that description which the Holy Ghost gives of men whilst uncalled, whilst unbelievers, is suited unto them who profess themselves to be Christians, See Titus 3:3.

IV. All true and real professors of the gospel are sanctified by the Holy Ghost, and made truly and really holy.

So Paul here terms those Hebrews, exercising towards them the judgment of charity, declaring what they ought to be, and what they professed themselves to be, what he believed them to be, and what, if they were living members of Christ, really they were. It is true, some that profess holiness may not be really holy. But, first, If they do not so profess it as not to be convinced by any gospel means of the contrary, they are not to be esteemed professors at all, Acts 8:20-23; Philippians 3:18-19; 2 Timothy 3:5. Secondly, If that holiness which men profess in their lives be not real in their hearts, they have no right to the privileges that attend profession, John 3:5.

V. No man comes unto a useful, saving knowledge of Jesus Christ in the gospel, but by virtue of an effectual heavenly calling.

These Hebrews came to be “holy brethren,” children of God, united unto Christ, by their participation in a “heavenly calling.” We are “called out of darkness into his marvellous light,” 1 Peter 2:9; and this not only with the outward call of the word, — which many are made partakers of who never attain the saving knowledge of Christ, Matthew 20:16, — but with that effectual call, which, being granted in the pursuit of God’s purpose of election, Romans 8:28, is accompanied with the energetical, quickening power of the Holy Ghost, Ephesians 2:5, giving eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to obey the word, according unto the promise of the covenant, Jeremiah 31:33-34. And thus no man can come to Christ unless the Father draw him, John 6:44.

VI. The effectual heavenly vocation of believers is their great privilege, wherein they have cause to rejoice, and which always ought to mind them of their duty unto Him that hath called them.

For these two ends doth the apostle mind the Hebrews of their participation in the heavenly calling; — first, That they might consider the privilege they enjoyed by the gospel far above and beyond whatever they boasted of under the law; and, secondly, That he might stir them up unto the performance of their duty in faith and obedience, according as God requires of them who are called. And this calling will appear a signal privilege if we consider: —

1. The state from whence men are called, which is a state of death, Ephesians 2:1; and of darkness, Colossians 1:13, 1 Peter 2:9; and of enmity against God, Colossians 1:21, Ephesians 4:18, Romans 8:7; and of wrath, John 3:36, Ephesians 2:3. It is a state of all that misery which the nature of man is capable of or obnoxious unto in this world or to eternity. Or,

2. By whom they are called, even by God above, or in heaven, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Corinthians 1:9, Romans 8:28, 1 Peter 1:15; Philippians 3:14, Galatians 5:8. And,

3. From whence or what inducement it is that he calls them; which is from his own mere love and undeserved grace, Titus 3:3-5. And,

4. The discrimination of persons in this call. All are not thus called, but only those that are, in the eternal purpose of the love of God, designed to so great a mercy, Romans 8:28; Romans 8:31-32. And,

5. The outward condition for the most part of them that are called, which is poor and contemptible in this world, 1 Corinthians 1:26-28, James 2:5. And,

6. The means of this calling, which are the holy Word and Holy Spirit, John 17:17, 1 Corinthians 6:11, 2 Thessalonians 2:14. And,

7. What men are called unto; which is to light, 1 Peter 2:9, Colossians 1:13; and to life, John 5:24-25; to holiness, Romans 1:7, 1 Corinthians 1:2, 1 Thessalonians 4:7; and unto liberty, Galatians 5:13; unto the peace of God, Colossians 3:15, 1 Corinthians 7:15; and unto his kingdom, 1 Thessalonians 2:12, Colossians 1:13; unto righteousness, Romans 8:30; and to mercy, Romans 9:23-24; and unto eternal glory, 1 Peter 5:10. Of all these benefits, with the privilege of the worship of God attending them, are believers made partakers by their heavenly calling. And this minds them of their whole duty ; —

(1.) By the way of justice, representing it unto them as meet, equal, and righteous, 1 Peter 1:15;

(2.) Of gratitude, or thankfulness for so great mercy, 1 John 3:1, 1 Peter 3:9;

(3.) Of encouragement, etc. Proceed we again unto the exposition of the words.

“Consider the apostle and high priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.” The words may be read either, “Consider Christ Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our profession,” and so the person, of Christ is placed as the immediate object of the consideration required, and the other words are added only as a description of him by his offices; or, “Consider the apostle and high priest of our profession, Christ Jesus,” and then the apostle and high priest of our profession are the proper objects of this consideration, and the name added doth but indigitate the individual person who was clothed with these offices.

This is the immediate duty which the apostle here presseth them unto, namely, the consideration of that apostle and high priest of our profession, whose greatness, glory, excellency, and pre-eminence in all things he had declared. And herein the nature of the duty and the object of it are represented unto us.

First, The nature of it, in the word “consider.” Some suppose that faith, trust, and confidence,, are intended or included in this word. But κατανοέω is nowhere used in any such sense, nor will the present design of the apostle admit of any such interpretation in this place; for the duty he exhorts unto is in order unto faith, and constancy therein. And this is no other but a diligent intension of mind, in their considerations, thoughts, meditations, and conceptions about Jesus Christ, that they may understand and perceive aright who and what he is, and what will follow upon his being such. And this rational consideration is of singular use unto the end proposed. And as he afterwards blames them for their remissness and backwardness in learning the doctrine of the gospel, Hebrews 5:11-14; so here he seems to intimate that they had not sufficiently weighed and pondered the nature and quality of the person of Christ, and his offices, and were thereupon kept in their entanglements unto Judaism. This, therefore, he now exhorts them unto, and that by fixing their minds unto a diligent, rational, spiritual consideration of what he had delivered, and was yet further to deliver concerning him and them.

VII. The spiritual mysteries of the gospel, especially those which concern the person and offices of Christ, require deep, diligent, and attentive consideration.

This is that which the Hebrews are here exhorted unto: κατανοήσατε, “Consider attentively,” or “diligently.” This is assigned as one means of the conversion of Lydia, Acts 16:14. προσέχει, — she attended diligently to the things spoken by Paul, as an effect of the grace of God in opening her heart, Careless, wayside hearers of the word get no profit by it, Matthew 13:19. Their nature and worth, with our own condition, call for this duty.

1. In their nature they are mysteries; that is, things deep, hidden, and full of divine wisdom: 1 Corinthians 2:7, σοφία θεοῦ ἐν μυστηρίῳ, — “The wisdom of God in a mystery;” such as the angels desire to bow down (not in a way of condescension, but of endeavor, ἐπιθυμοῦσι παρακύψαι) and look into, 1 Peter 1:12. For in Christ, and through him in the gospel ( εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν τοῦ μυστηρίου τοῦ χριστοῦ, ἐν ᾧ, “unto the acknowledgment of the mystery of Christ; in whom,” or “wherein”), “are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” Colossians 2:2-3. And hence are we directed to cry after knowledge, to apply our hearts to understanding, to “seek her as silver, to search for her as hid treasures,” Proverbs 2:3-4; and not to consider these things as easily exposed to every wandering eye and lazy passenger. Such persons find not mines of silver or the hid treasures of former generations. Of this search the prophets and holy men of old are proposed for our example, 1 Peter 1:10-11. Unto this purpose they are said ἐρευνᾶν, to “investigate” or “diligently search” into the Scriptures; as we are commanded to do if we intend to attain eternal life, John 5:39. For the most part men content themselves with an overly consideration of these things. It is the πάρεργον of their lives, — what they do on the by, or when they have nothing else to do whereby they come to know no more of them than they must, as it were, whether they will or no, — which upon the matter is nothing at all. Carnal sloth is not the way to an acquaintance with spiritual things or mysteries.

2. The worth and importance of these things bespeaks the same duty. Things may be dark and mysterious, and yet not weighty and worthy, so that they will not defray the charge of diligent search after them. Solomon’s merchants would not have gone to Ophir had there not been gold there, as well as apes and peacocks. But all things are here secure. There are unsearchable treasures in these mysteries, Ephesians 3:8, πλοῦτος ἀνεξιχςίαστος, — riches not in this world to be searched out to perfection. No tongue can fully express them, no mind perfectly conceive them. Their root and spring lies in the divine nature, which is infinite, and therefore inexpressible and inexhaustible. There is in them μαργαρίτης πολύτιμος, Matthew 13:46, “an exceeding precious pearl,” a pearl of great and invaluable price; — a stone which, though by some rejected, is yet esteemed of God “elect and precious;” and so also by them that believe, 1 Peter 2:6-7. “The merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold: it is more precious than rubies,” Proverbs 3:14-15. Whatever is of worth and value in the glory of God, and the everlasting good of the souls of sinners, is wrapped up in these mysteries. Now, every thing is (at least comparatively)despised that is not esteemed according unto its proper worth. So undoubtedly are these things by the most of them to whom they are preached.

3. Our own condition calls for diligence in the discharge of this duty. We are for the most part, like these Hebrews, νωθροί, Hebrews 5:11, — “slothful,” or “dull in hearing.” We have a natural unreadiness unto that hearing whereby faith cometh, which is the consideration here called for; and therefore cannot sufficiently stir up our spirits and minds unto our duty herein. The manner of the most in attending unto the mysteries of the gospel should cause our sorrow here, as it will theirs (if not prevented) unto eternity.

Secondly, The object of this consideration is Christ Jesus, who is the apostle and high priest of our profession. Together with the especial indigitation of the person intended by his name, “Christ Jesus,” we have the description of him as he is to be considered, by his offices, an “apostle,” and a “high priest;” with their limitation, “of our profession.”

1. He is said, and he is here only said, to be an “apostle,” or “the apostle.” An apostle is one sent, a legate, ambassador, or public messenger. And this is one of the characteristical notes of the Messiah. He is one sent of God upon his great errand unto the children of men, his apostle. Speaking of himself by his Spirit, Isaiah 48:16, he saith אֲדֹנָי יַהוָה שְׁלָחַנִי וְרוּחוֹ — “The Lord GOD, and his Spirit, hath sent me;” and again, Isaiah 61:1, יָהָֹוהאּשְׁלָחַנִי, — “The LORD hath sent me,” namely, according unto the promise that God would send him unto the church to be a savior, Isaiah 19:20. And this he tells the church, that they may gather and know from his love and care, namely, that the Lord God had sent him, Zechariah 2:8-9, — that he was his legate, his apostle. And because God had promised from the foundation of the world thus to send him, this became a periphrasis or principal notation of him, “He whom God would send;” that is, his great legate. Hereunto Moses seems to have had respect in these words, Exodus 4:13, בְּיַדאּתִּשְׁלָח שְׁלַחאּנָא; — “Send now, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send,” namely, ‘to be the deliverer and savior of thy people.’Hence in the old church he came to be called emphatically ὁ ἐρχόμενος, — “he that was to come,” “that was to be sent.” So when John sent his disciples to Jesus to inquire whether he was the Christ, he doth it in these words, σὺ εἰ ὁ ἐρχόμενος; — “Art thou he that was to come?” that is, to be sent of God, Matthew 11:3, John 11:27. And thence the ancient Latin translation renders “Shilo,” Genesis 49:10, “qui mittendus est,” “he that is to be sent,” — it may be deriving the word, by a mistake, from שָׁלַח, “to send.” But it well expresseth the common notion of him in the church after the giving of the first promise, “He that was to be sent.” And in the Gospel he doth not himself more frequently make mention of any thing than of his being sent of God, or of being his apostle. “He whom God hath sent,” is his description of himself, John 3:34; and him he calls τὸν ἀποστείλαντα, “him that sent him,” or made him his apostle, Matthew 10:40. And this is most frequently repeated in the Gospel by John, that we may know of what importance the consideration of it is: see John 3:17; John 3:34; John 4:34; John 5:23-24; John 5:30; John 5:36-38; John 6:29; John 6:38-40; John 6:44; John 6:57; John 7:16; John 7:28-29; John 8:16; John 8:18; John 8:29; John 8:42; John 9:4; John 10:36; John 11:42; John 13:20; John 12:44-45; John 12:49; John 14:24; John 16:5; John 17:3; John 17:18; John 17:21; John 17:23; John 17:25; John 20:21. Two things, then, are included in this expression or title: —

(1.) The authority he had for his work. He came not of himself, but was sent of God, even the Father; and therefore spake in his name, and fed the church

“in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God,” Micah 5:4.

And as he became the apostle of the Father by his being sent of him, so by his sending of others in his name he made them his apostles, John 20:21. As the love, therefore, so the authority of the Father is much to be considered in this matter.

(2.) His work itself, which is here included, and elsewhere largely declared. It was to reveal and declare the will of the Father unto the children of men, to declare the Father himself, John 1:18, and his name, John 17:6; John 17:26; that is, the mystery of his grace, covenant, and whole will concerning our obedience and salvation, Hebrews 1:1-2. For this end was he the apostle and ambassador of the Father, sent into the world by him, Malachi 3:1. In brief, the prophetical office of Christ, with respect unto his immediate authoritative mission by the Father, is intended in this title. And it is a title of honor as well as of office that is here given him. Hence the impious Mohammedans, when they would persuade or compel any one to their sect, require no more of him but that he acknowledge Mohammed to be “Resul Ellahi,” “The apostle of God.” In this sense, then, is the Lord Christ called “The apostle of our profession,” in that he was sent of God to declare his mind and will, in his name and with his authority, as ambassadors are wont to do in reference unto them that send them.

But whereas our Lord Jesus Christ was in an especial manner, as to the time of his conversation in the flesh, and his personal revealing the will of God, sent unto the Jews, and therefore says, Matthew 15:24, that “he was not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” — that is, as unto his personal ministry on the earth; and our apostle affirms that he was “a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers,” Romans 15:8; and being only in this place unto the Hebrews called an apostle, — I leave it unto consideration whether there may not be some especial respect unto his peculiar mission, in his person and ministry unto them, intended in his name and title, here only given him.

2. Hereunto is added the “high priest;” — both in one, as the kingdom and priesthood are also promised, Zechariah 6:13. Both the Hebrews and we are now to look for all in him.

These offices of old were in several persons. Moses was the apostle, or ambassador of God, to declare his will and law unto the people; and Aaron was the high priest, to administer the holy things in the worship of God. This was the poverty of types, that no one could so much as represent the work between God and the church. I will not deny but that Moses was a priest in an extraordinary manner before the institution of the Aaronical priesthood; but his officiating in that office being but a temporary thing, which belonged not to the condition of the Judaical church, it was not considered by our apostle in his comparing of him with Christ. To manifest, therefore, unto the Hebrews how the Lord Christ hath the preeminence in all things, he instructs them that both the offices, that of an apostle, which of old was executed by Moses, and that of the high priesthood, committed unto Aaron, were vested in him alone, intending afterwards to evince how far he excelled them both, and how excellent were his offices in comparison of theirs, though they came under the same name.

3. The limitation adjoined is, “of our profession:” “The apostle and high priest of our profession.” The words may be taken objectively and passively, ‘The apostle and high priest whom we profess,’— that is, believe, declare, and own so to be; or they may actively denote ‘the author of our profession,’— ‘the apostle and high priest who hath revealed and declared the faith which we profess, the religion which we own, and therein exerciseth in his own person the office of the priesthood.’In this sense he is called “The author and finisher of our faith,” Hebrews 12:2. Our faith objectively, and our profession, are the same. Our profession is the faith and worship of God which we profess. This is our ὀμολογία, even the gospel, with the worship and obedience required therein. And the Lord Christ was and is the apostle of this profession, as he revealed the will of God unto us in the gospel, as he brought life and immortality to light thereby, teaching and instructing us in the whole will of God, as Moses did the Jews of old. He is also the high priest of this our profession, inasmuch as he himself offered the one and the only sacrifice which in our religion we own and profess, and continues alone to perform the whole office of a priest therein, as Aaron and his successors did in that of the Jews. It belonged not unto the office of the high priest to institute and appoint any thing in the worship of God, but only to execute his own duty in offering sacrifices and interceding for the people. So the Lord Christ, — who, as the apostle of our profession, instituted the whole worship of God to be observed therein, — as our high priest doth only offer the sacrifice of the church and intercede for the people.

The word “our” is added by way of discrimination, and is regulated by the compellation and description foregoing: “Holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, he is the apostle and high priest of our profession;” —

‘Whatever by others he be esteemed, he is so to us; and our inestimable privilege and honor it is that he is so.’

This is the present exhortation of the apostle. That which he finally aims at, is to prevail with these Hebrews to hold fast the beginning of their confidence unto the end. To this purpose he exhorts, warns, and chargeth them, by all the bonds of mutual love and endearedness, by the greatness of the privilege which they are made partakers of, and the inexpressibleness of their concernment therein, that they would fix themselves unto a diligent consideration of him in whom all those offices now in our profession, — which of old were shared amongst many, in a low, carnal administration of them, — are gloriously vested. And how useful this would be unto them, and wherein this consideration doth consist, shall afterwards be made to appear. For the present we shall make some observations on the passages of the text that have been opened.

VIII. The business of God with sinners could be no way transacted but by the negotiation and embassy of the Son.

He must become our apostle; that is, be sent unto us. He did, indeed, at sundry times send servants and messengers into the world about his affair with us; but whereas they could never accomplish it, “last of all he sent his Son,” Matthew 21:37; Hebrews 1:1-2. There was a threefold greatness in this matter, which none was fit to manage but the Son of God: —

1. A greatness of grace, love, and condescension. That the great and holy God should send to treat with sinners for the ends of his message, for peace and reconciliation, it is a thing that all the creation must admire, and that unto eternity. He is every way in himself holy, good, righteous, and blessed for evermore. He stood in no need of sinners, of their service, of their obedience, of their being. But he was justly provoked by them, by their apostasy and rebellion against him, and that unto an indignation beyond what can be expressed. His justice and law required their punishment and destruction; which as he could have inflicted unto his own eternal glory, so they did not in any thing, nor could by any means, seek to divert him from it. Yet in this condition God will send a message unto these poor, perishing rebels, an embassy to treat with them about peace and reconciliation. But this now is so great a thing, includes such infinite grace, love, and condescension in it, that sinners know not how to believe it. And, indeed, who is fit to testify it unto them? Objections that arise against it are able to shake the credit and reputation of any angel in heaven. Wherefore God commits this message unto his Son, his only Son, makes him his apostle, sends him with these tidings, that they may be believed and accepted: 1 John 5:20, ‘The Son of God came, and gave this understanding.’It is true that God sent others with some parts of this message before; for “he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets from the beginning of the world,” Luke 1:70; but yet as the first promise was given out by the Son of God himself, as I have elsewhere declared, so all the messages of the prophets in or about this matter depended on the confirmation of them that he was afterward to give in his own person. So saith our apostle: Romans 15:8,

“Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers.” The truth of God in this matter delivered by the prophets was further to be attested by Jesus Christ, to whose testimony they referred themselves. And with respect hereunto he tells the Pharisees, that if he had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin. If the sealed book of prophecies concerning the judgment of God, in the Revelation, was of so great concernment that “no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth,” that is, no creature, “was able to open it, or look thereon,” Revelation 5:3, until the Lamb himself undertook it, Revelation 5:6-8, how much less was any creature meet or worthy to open the eternal secret counsels of the bosom of the Father, concerning the whole work of his love and grace, but the Son only! The grace of this message was too great for sinners to receive, without the immediate attestation of the Son of God.

2. There is a greatness in the work itself that is incumbent on the apostle of God, which required that the Son of God should be engaged therein; for,

(1.) As the ambassador or apostle of the Father, he was perfectly to represent the person of the Father unto us. This an ambassador is to do; he bears and represents the person of him by whom he is sent. And no king can more dishonor himself than by sending a person in that employment who, by reason of any defect, shall be unmeet so to do. God had, as was said, sent other messengers unto the children of men; but they were all but envoys of heaven, “anteambulones,” — some that ran before as particular messengers, to give notice of the coming of this great apostle or ambassador of God. But themselves were not to represent his person, nor could so do. See Malachi 3:1. Indeed he once, in a particular business, made Moses his especial legate, to, represent him to Pharaoh; and therefore he says to him, לְפָרְעֹה נְתַתִּיךָ אַלֹהִים, Exodus 7:1, — that is, “instead of God,” ‘one that may represent me in my terror and severity unto him:’but this was in one particular case and business. But who could fully represent the person of the Father unto sinners in this great matter? None, certainly, but he who is in himself “the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person,” Hebrews 1:3; and so represents unto us the holiness, the goodness, the grace, the love of the Father, by whom he was sent. Hence he tells his disciples that he who hath seen him hath seen the Father, John 14:9; and that because he is so in the Father, and the Father in him, that he represents him fully unto us, John 14:10. He is “the image of the invisible God,” Colossians 1:15; that is, the Father, who in his own person dwells in light, whereunto no creature can approach, hath exhibited and expressed the glorious properties of his nature unto us in the person of his Son, as our apostle expresseth it, 2 Corinthians 4:4. None, then, was fit to be this great apostle but he, for he only could fully represent the Father unto us. Any creature else undertaking this work would, or might, have led us into false notions and apprehensions of God. And the great wisdom of faith consists in teaching us to learn the Father, his nature and will, his holiness and grace, in the person of the Son incarnate, as his apostle and ambassador unto us; for beholding his glory, “the glory of the only-begotten Son of God, full of grace and truth,” we behold the glory of his Father also. So he and the Father are one.

(2.) The greatness of the work requires that he who undertakes it be intimately acquainted with all the secret counsels of God that lay hid in his infinite wisdom and will from all eternity. None else could undertake to be God’s apostle in this matter. But who must this be? It is true that God was pleased to reveal sundry particular things, effects of his counsels, unto his servants the prophets; but yet it is concerning them that the Holy Ghost speaks, John 1:18,

“No man hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”

The best of them had but a partial acquaintance with God. Moses saw but a glimpse of his back parts in his passage before him; that is, had but a dark and obscure revelation of his mind and will, — sufficient for his work and employment. This will not suffice him who is to manage the whole treaty between God and sinners. Who, then, shall do it? “The only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father.” “In his bosom;” that is, not only in his especial love, but who is partaker of his most intimate and secret counsels. This the design of the place requires to be the meaning of it: for so it follows, “He hath declared him;” — ‘He hath revealed him; he hath made him known, in his nature, his name, his will, his grace; he hath exhibited him to be seen by faith: for he only is able so to do, as being in his bosom; that is, acquainted with his nature, and partaker of his most intimate counsels.’Without this none could in this matter be God’s apostle; for the work is such as wherein God will reveal and make known, not this or that portion of his will, but himself, and all the eternal counsels of his mind, about all that he will have to do with sinners in this world, and the whole glory which he aims at therein to eternity. This knowledge of God and his counsels no creature was capable of. The Son alone thus knows the Father and his mind. If it were otherwise, — if our apostle did not know the whole counsel of God in this matter, all that is in his heart and mind, — it is impossible but that in this great concern sinners would have been left under endless fears and doubts, lest some things might yet remain, and be reserved in the unsearchable abyss of the divine understanding and will, that might frustrate all their hopes and expectations. Their sin, and guilt, and worthlessness would still suggest such thoughts and fears unto them. But in this embassy of the Son there is full and plenary satisfaction tendered unto us that the whole counsel of God was originally known unto him; so that there is no ground of the least suspicion that there is any reserve in the counsels of God concerning us that he hath not made known.

(3.) To this end also it was necessary that he should have these counsels of God always abiding with him, that at all times and on all occasions he might be able to declare the mind and will of God. It was not enough that originally, as he was God, he knew all the things of God, but also as he was sent, as he was the apostle of God, the counsel of God was constantly to abide with him. This is another thing; for the wisdom and knowledge of Christ as mediator, to be acted in the human nature, was distinct from his knowledge as he was in himself God over all, blessed for ever. And without this none could have been a meet apostle from God unto sinners; for how else should he reveal the will of God unto them according unto all emergencies and occasions? When the council of Trent was sitting, and any hard matter (indeed almost any thing) came to be determined amongst them, the leaders of them, not knowing what to do, always sent to Rome to the pope and his cardinals for their determination. When this came to them, they decreed it under the usual form, “It pleaseth the Holy Ghost, and us” Hence there grew a common by-word amongst the people, that the Holy Ghost came once a week from Rome to Trent in a portmanteau. But when any men are not sufficiently furnished in themselves for the discharge of their duty, according to the variety of occasions and emergencies that they may meet withal, they will put themselves, as will also those with whom they have to do, unto great difficulties and distresses. It was necessary, therefore, that God’s apostle unto sinners should, in the whole discharge of his office, be furnished with a full comprehension of the whole mind of God, as to the affair committed unto him. Now, this never any was nor ever can be capable of, but only Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It wholly exceeds the capacity of any merely created person to comprehend at once, and have resident with him, the whole of the will and mind of God in the business of his transaction with sinners; for after the utmost of their attainments, and the communications of God unto them, they still know but in part. It is true, they may be able to know so much of the mind of God as to declare unto others the whole of their duty, — whence Paul tells the elders of Ephesus that he had “not shunned to declare unto them all the counsel of God,” Acts 20:27, — yet, as to a full, habitual comprehension of the whole mind of God in this matter, to reside with them, answering all occasions and emergencies, and that originally and immediately, that no mere creature was capable of. But as this was needful to the great apostle, so it was found in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. “The Spirit of the LORD did rest upon him” (not came upon him at times, but did rest upon him, remained on him, John 1:32-33),

“the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD and made him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD,” Isaiah 11:2-3.

It may be you will say, ‘It did so in some degrees of it only, or in a singular measure above others.’Nay, “God gave not the Spirit by measure unto him,” John 3:34, when he was sent to speak the words of God; not in such a way as that he should only have a greater measure of the Spirit than others, but in a way wholly different from what they received. So that when it is said, he was “anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows,” Hebrews 1:9, it is not intended only that he received the Spirit in a degree above them, but the same Spirit in another kind; for “it pleased the Father that in him all fullness should dwell,” Colossians 1:19, — all fullness of wisdom and counsel, in a complete comprehension of the whole will and mind of God. And accordingly, “in him were hid” (laid up safely) “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” Colossians 2:3. This also was requisite unto this great apostle, and it was possible to be found only in the Son of God.

(4.) The nature of the work required that the ambassador of God to sinners should be able to make his message to be believed and received by them. Without this the whole work and undertaking might be frustrated. Nor is it sufficient to say that the message itself is so great, so excellent, so advantageous unto sinners, that there is no doubt but that upon the first proposal of it they will receive it and embrace it; for we find the contrary by multiplied experience. And not only so, but it is certain also that no sinner is able of himself and in his own strength to receive it or believe it; for “faith is not of ourselves, it is the gift of God.” Now, if this ambassador, this apostle from God, have not power to enable men to receive his message, the whole design of God must needs be frustrated therein. And who shall effect or accomplish this? Is this the work of a man, to quicken the dead, to open the blind eyes, to take away the stony heart, to create a new spiritual light in the mind, and life in the will? all which are necessary, that God’s message unto sinners may be savingly received. This also could be done only by the Son of God; for

“no man knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him,” Matthew 11:27.

And this he doth by the effectual working of his Spirit, the dispensation whereof is committed wholly unto him, as hath been elsewhere declared. By him doth he write the law of his message in the fleshy tables of the hearts of them to whom he is sent, 2 Corinthians 3:3, as Moses wrote his message, or had it written, in tables of stone. So that the nature of this work required that it should be committed unto the Son of God. And so did, —

3. The end of it. This was no less than to proclaim and establish peace between God and man. It is not a place to show how old, fixed, lasting, and universal this enmity was; nor yet how great, excellent, and precious, in the means, causes, and nature of it, that peace was which God sent about. These things are known and confessed. These things were such as none were fit to intermeddle withal but the Son of God only. He alone who made this peace was meet to declare it. “He is our peace;” and he “came and preached peace,” Ephesians 2:14; Ephesians 2:17. And on the account of the discharge of this work is he called ὁ λόγος, “the Word of God,” Revelation 19:13, John 1:1, as by whom God was declared; and מַלְאַךְ פַנִים Isaiah 63:9, “The angel of God’s presence; and מֵלְיצ מלְאַךְ, Job 33:23, “The angel the interpreter,” the great interpreter of the mind of God; and יוֹעֵ׃, Isaiah 9:5, “The counsellor;” and הַבְּרִית מלְאַךְ, Malachi 3:1, “The angel” (or “messenger”) “of the covenant;” as here, “The apostle of our profession.”

And hence we may see the great obligation that is upon us to hearken unto this message, not only upon the account of the message itself, but also on the account of him that brings it. The message itself is “worthy of all acceptation,” and everlasting woe will be unto them by whom it is rejected. He that refuseth peace with God shall have war and wrath from him to eternity, and that deservedly. But God expects that great weight should be laid on the consideration of the person that brings it. “Surely,” saith he, “they will reverence my Son.” It may be men may think in their hearts that if they heard Christ himself delivering this message, if they had heard him preaching this peace, they would undoubtedly have received and embraced it. So indeed thought the Jews of old, that if they had lived in the days of the former prophets, they would not have dealt with them as their forefathers did, but would have believed their word and obeyed their commands; — as the rich man thought that his brethren would repent if one might rise from the dead and preach unto them. All men have pretences for their present unbelief, and suppose that if it were not for them they should do otherwise. But they are all vain and foolish, as our Lord Jesus manifested in the former instances of the Jews and the rich man in hell. Here there is no pretense of this nature that can take place; for this great apostle and ambassador of God continueth yet to speak unto us, and to press his message upon us. So saith our apostle, Hebrews 12:25, “See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For how shall we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven?” He did not only speak of old, but he continueth to speak, he speaketh still; he still speaketh in the word of the gospel, and in the administration of it according to his mind and will. When from thence we are pressed to believe, and to accept the terms of peace that God hath prepared for us and proposeth unto us, if we refuse them, we reject this great apostle which God hath sent unto us to treat with us in his name. And what will be the end of such men? what will be the end of us all, if the guilt hereof should be found upon us? Another observation also the words will afford us, according to the foregoing exposition, which shall only be briefly mentioned, namely, —

IX. Especial privileges will not advantage men without especial grace. The Lord Christ was in an especial manner an apostle unto the Jews. To them was he sent immediately. And unto them was his ministry in the flesh confined. Greater privilege could none be made partakers of. And what was the issue? “He came unto his own, and his own received him,” John 1:11. Incomparably the greatest part of them rejected him, and the tidings of peace that he came to bring. It is worth your consideration who are intrusted with all gospel privileges. They will not save you, they may ruin you. Look after grace to make them effectual, lest they prove “the savor of death unto death” to any of you. Once more, from the ascribing of both these offices to our Lord Jesus Christ, —

X. The Lord Christ is all in all in and unto his church, — the king, priest, and apostle or prophet of it, all in one.

So our apostle tells us that Christ is τὰ πάντα καὶ ἐν πᾶσι, unto believers, — “all things, and in all things,” Colossians 3:11; supplying all wants, answering all privileges, the spring of all grace, electing all mercy: so that in him alone they are complete, as Colossians 2:10 of the same epistle. Here he proposeth it as a privilege and advantage that we have in him above what was enjoyed under the old testament. And this consisteth in two things: —

1. That what they had in the type only, that we have in reality and substance.

2. Such was the poverty of the types, that no one of them could so much as shadow out or represent all that advantage which we really enjoy; and therefore they were multiplied, and the work distributed amongst them which they were to represent.

This made them a yoke, and that grievous and burdensome. The way of teaching in them and by them was hard and obscure, as well as their observation was difficult. It was a hard thing for them to learn the love, grace, and mind of God by them. God revealed himself in them πολυμερῶς, by many parts and pieces, according as they were capable to receive impression from and make representation of divine wisdom, goodness, and grace; whence our apostle says, that the law had but σκίαν, “a shadow,” and not αὐτὴν τὴν εἰκόνα πραγμάτων, Hebrews 10:1, — “the image itself of things.” It had some scattered shades, which the great limner had laid the foundation of symmetry in, but so as to be discernible only unto his own infinite wisdom. A perfect image, wherein all the parts should exactly answer unto one another, and so plainly represent the thing intended, that it had not. Now, it was a work beyond their wisdom, out of these scattered pieces and parts of revelation, especially being implanted on carnal things, to gather up the whole of the grace and good-will of God. But in Christ Jesus God hath gathered all into one bead, Ephesians 1:10, wherein both his person and grace are fully and at once represented. Thus they had no one that was king, priest, and prophet to the church; nor could any be so after the giving of the law, the kingdom being promised unto the tribe of Judah, and the priesthood confined to the house of Aaron, of the tribe of Levi. Neither could any typical person alone of himself answer exactly and completely that wherein he was a type; for besides their own imperfections and failings, even in the discharge of their typical office, — which rendered them a weak and imperfect representation of him who was absolutely perfect in all things, — they could not in and by themselves at all discharge their office. Kings who were his types were to act, and did act, according to the counsel of others, and those sometimes none of the best; as David was much guided by the counsel of Ahithophel, which was to him as if he had “inquired at the oracle of God,” 2 Samuel 16:23. But Christ, our king, hath all stores of wisdom and counsel in himself, and “needed not that any should testify of man; for he knew what was in man,” John 2:25. So it was prophesied of him that “upon one stone,” the foundation-stone of the house of God, “there should be seven eyes,” Zechariah 3:9. Counsellors are ὀφθαλμοὶ βασιλέων, — “the eyes of kings.” And in the monarchy of Persia, whence this prophet was newly come, there were always seven of Ezra 7:14, “Thou art sent of the king, and of his seven counsellors;” and their names at that time are reckoned up, Esther 1:14. ‘But,’saith he, ‘all these eyes shall be on the foundation-stone itself, so that he shall no way need the advice or counsel of others.’Or, to the same purpose, it may denote a perfection of wisdom and knowledge, which by that number is frequently signified. And for the high priest, he could do nothing alone. Unless he had an altar and a sacrifice, fire from above and a tabernacle or temple, his office was of no use. But our Lord Jesus is all this, — both priest, Hebrews 4:14, and altar, Hebrews 13:10, and sacrifice, Ephesians 5:2, and tabernacle or temple, John 2:19; John 2:21, Colossians 2:9, and the fire, Hebrews 9:14, all in his own person, as shall, God willing, be afterwards declared. The like may be said of the prophets. Who sees not, then, herein the great privilege of the new testament, seeing we have these things all really which they had only in type, and all in one which among them were distributed amongst so many, and those all weak and imperfect.

Now, seeing that he is thus all unto us, two things do naturally and necessarily follow: —

1. That we should seek for all in him. To what end were all typical offices, with their attendancies, instituted in the church of old? was it not that in them, one thing in one, another in another, they might find and obtain whatever was needful or useful for or unto the worship of God, their own edification and salvation? And shall we not seek for all in him who was represented, and that but darkly and infirmly, by them all? Whatever any one stood in need of in the commonwealth of Israel, he might have it fully answered either by king, priest, or prophet. And shall we not be perfectly justified by him who is really and substantially all in one? Yea, all our defects, weaknesses, and troubles, arise from hence, that we make not our applications unto him for that assistance which he is able, ready, and willing to give unto us.

2. As we must go to him for all, so we must receive and take him for all, that he may be all and in all. We are not only to address ourselves unto him as our priest, to be interested in his sacrifice and the atonement made thereby, but as our king also, to rule us by his Spirit, and to instruct us as the apostle of our profession. To take Christ, as some do, for a prophet, the apostle of God, but not as a high priest, or a priest properly so called, is to reject the true Christ, and to frame an idol to ourselves in our own imaginations. It is the same to divide him with respect unto any of his other offices or parts of his work whatever.

The exposition of the second verse yet remaineth, which will make way for that observation which is comprehensive of the principal design of the apostle in this place. Having laid down the sum of his exhortation, by an addition of the fidelity of Christ the apostle maketh a transition to the comparing of him with Moses as to his office apostolical or legatine, as afterwards he proceeds to compare him with Aaron in his office sacerdotal.

Hebrews 3:2. — “Being faithful to him who appointed him, even as Moses in his whole house.”

Entering upon a comparison of the Lord Christ with Moses as he was the apostle of God, or one sent by him to reveal his will, he recommends him to the faith of the Hebrews under the principal qualification of a person in that office, “He was faithful.” This being a term of relation, he further describes it by its respect unto God, and that act of God whereunto it answered, “To him that appointed him :” and then in general expresseth the comparison intended;

By naming the person with whom he compared him, “Even as Moses;” and, the subject of his employment, “The whole house of God.”

First, The chief qualification of an apostle or ambassador is, that he be faithful. God’s apostle is the chief steward or dispenser of his mysteries, and it is principally “required in stewards, that a man be found faithful,” 1 Corinthians 4:2. ῾απόστολος ἐν οἴχῳ, an “apostle in the house” is οἰκόνομος, the steward and dispenser of all things in and unto the house. This, therefore, the apostle expresseth in the first place, and that absolutely and comparatively. He was “faithful,” and “faithful as was Moses.” His faithfulness as a high priest, and wherein that faithfulness did consist, we have declared, Hebrews 2:17-18. Here, though that expression, πιστὸν ὄντα, being “faithful,” is annexed unto the mention of two offices, apostolical and sacerdotal, yet, as appears from the ensuing discourse, it relates only unto the former.

Now, the fidelity of a legate, ambassador, or an apostle, consists principally in the full revelation and declaration of the whole mind and will of him by whom he is sent, as to the end for which he is sent., and nothing in his name but what is so his mind and will. Thus, our apostle, to declare his faithfulness in his office apostolical, affirms that he had “kept nothing back” from them to whom he was sent, “that was profitable unto them,” Acts 20:20, nor “shunned to declare unto them all the counsel of God,” Acts 20:27.

There are two things in faithfulness; — first, trust; and, secondly, the discharge thereof. Faithfulness respects trust. Our Lord, therefore, must have a trust committed unto him, wherein he was faithful: which also he had, for it pleased the Father to lay up in him “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” Colossians 2:3, — to commit unto him the whole mystery of his will and grace, — and so sent him to declare himself, John 1:18; and his “name,” John 17:6, — to make known the last full declaration of his mind and will, as to his worship, with the obedience and salvation of the church, Hebrews 1:1-2, and therewithal to “seal up vision and prophecy,” Daniel 9:24, that no new or further revelation of the will of God should ever be made or added unto what was made by him, Revelation 22:18-19. Being intrusted with this work, his authority for it is proclaimed, the Father giving command from heaven unto all to “hear him,” Matthew 17:5, who was thus sent by him. And therein “he received from God the Father honor and glory,” 2 Peter 1:17, being declared to be that great prophet whom all were obliged to hear on pain of utter extermination, Deuteronomy 18:18-19; Acts 3:22-23. This was the trust of the Lord Christ in this matter, and in the discharge hereof did his fidelity consist. And this he manifested in three things: —

1. In that in this great work he sought not his own glory, but the glory of him that sent him, John 8:50; declaring that he came not in his own, but in his Father’s name, John 5:43. He turned not his message unto his own advantage, but unto the advantage or honor of him that sent him.

2. In that he declared his word or message not to be his own, that is originally or principally, but his Father’s: “The word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me,” John 14:24.

3. In that he declared the whole will or word of God that was committed unto him, for the end mentioned: “I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me,” John 17:8; witnessing therein a good confession, 1 Timothy 6:13, sealing the truth with his blood, which he came into the world to bear witness unto, John 18:37. And greater faithfulness could not be expressed.

Secondly, This faithfulness he discharged towards “him that appointed him.” The apostle mentioning the offices of Christ distinctly, addeth unto every one of them his designation or appointment to them: unto his kingly office, Hebrews 1:2, — ‘He was appointed heir, or lord of all;’unto his sacerdotal, Hebrews 5:5, — ‘He took not on himself the office of a priest, without the call of God;’and here, as to his apostolical or prophetical office, — ‘He was appointed of God.’And this he doth for two ends; — first, To evidence that the Lord Christ took not any thing upon him in the house of God without call or authority; secondly, That we might see the love and care of God, even the Father, in the mediation of the Lord Christ, as appointing him to his whole office and work.

“To him that appointed him.” This appointment of Christ, or his being made the apostle of God, consists in a fivefold act of God in reference thereunto: —

1. In his eternal designation of him to his work and office; for as he was in general προεγνωσμένος πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου, 1 Peter 1:20, “fore-ordained before the foundation of the world,” so was he in particular designed of God to be his apostle for the instruction of his church, Isaiah 48:16; Zechariah 6:13; Proverbs 8:22-31. Hence that eternal life which he was to manifest, 1 John 1:2, and to bring to light by the gospel, 2 Timothy 1:10, is said to be “promised before the world began,” Titus 1:2, even because of this purpose of sending the Son to declare it; on which account also it is said to be with the Father before it was manifested by him, 1 John 1:2. And herein lies the foundation of the appointment of Christ unto his office.

2. In the solemn promise made from the beginning to send him for this purpose. This gave him a virtual law-constitution, whereby he became, as its prophet, the object of the church’s faith and expectation. And this was included in the first promise, Genesis 3:15. Darkness, blindness, and ignorance, being come upon us by sin, he that was to deliver us from all the effects and consequents of it must of necessity be our instructor in the fight and knowledge of God. But the first open, plain expression of it by the way of promise is Deuteronomy 18:18; which is confirmed by following promises innumerable. See Isaiah 11:1-5; Isaiah 40:11; Isaiah 42:1-7; Isaiah 49:1-4; Isaiah 49:8-9; Isaiah 52:15; Zechariah 6:12-13; Malachi 3:1-4.

3. In sending him actually into the world to be “the light of men,” John 1:4, and to “manifest that eternal life which was with the Father,” 1 John 1:2; to which end he furnished him with his Spirit and all the gifts thereof in all fullness, for the discharge of his office, Isaiah 11:2-3; Isaiah 61:1-3. For to this end he received not the Spirit by measure, John 3:34, but was “anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows,” Hebrews 1:9; of which unction we have treated at large before.

4. In the declaration he made of him to be his apostle and ambassador by a visible sign. This was done in the descending of the Holy Ghost upon him in the likeness of a dove, John 1:32-33.

And herewithal did God commit his charge and trust unto him, which he was to keep and preserve, Zechariah 6:12-13. Being thus sent by the Lord of hosts, Zechariah 2:8, and therein clothed with his name, authority, and majesty, Micah 5:4, he acted in all things as his legate and apostle, — by his commission and authority, in his name, and unto his glory.

5. Lastly, Unto these acts of his appointment God added his command, and published it from heaven unto all, to hear and obey him, as the great teacher sent from God, as his apostle, speaking in his name, Matthew 17:5. By these means was the Lord Christ appointed to be the apostle of God; and “he was faithful unto him that appointed him,” as hath been declared.

Thirdly, “As was Moses in his whole house.” The last thing in these words is the further assertion of the fidelity of Christ by a comparison with Moses, who was “faithful in his whole house.” We observed before, that it is not evident unto whom these words are immediately applied. But whomsoever they have respect unto, they belong also to the other; for the one as well as the other was faithful in the whole house of God. But the apostle seems directly to express the words used by God himself concerning Moses, Numbers 12:7 : בְּכָלאּבִִֵּתי נֶאַמָן הוּא; — “In tota domo mea fidelis ipse;” — “He is faithful in all my house.” And they are therefore here firstly intended of him. Three things are, then, considerable in these words:

1. The commendation of Moses, — he was “faithful”

2. The extent of his faithfulness, — it was “in all the house of God;” both which are expressed in the words.

3. The comparison implied between Christ and him.

1. “Moses was נֶאַמָן, “faithful.” It is true, he failed personally in his faith, and was charged of God that he believed him not, Numbers 20:12; but this was in respect of his own faith in one particular, and is no impeachment of his faithfulness in the especial office intended. As he was the apostle, the ambassador of God, to reveal his mind and institute his worship, he was universally faithful; for he declared and did all things according to his will and appointment, by the testimony of God himself, Exodus 40:16, “According to all that the LORD commanded him, so did he.” He withheld nothing of what God revealed or commanded, nor did he add any thing thereunto; and herein did his faithfulness consist.

2. The extent of his faithfulness was in “the whole house of God,” — ἐν ὅγῳ οἴκῳ: that is, saith Chrysostom, ε᾿ν ὅλῳ τῷ λαῷ, — “ in the whole people.” “In his house;” that is, in his household, his family: Acts 2:36, ᾿ασφαλῶς γινωσκέτο πᾶς οι῏κος ᾿ισραήλ· — “Let the whole house of Israel know;” that is, the whole family, the posterity of Jacob, or Israel. See “house” for “household,” Acts 16:15; 1 Corinthians 1:16; 2 Timothy 1:16. The “house of God,” then, is his household, his family, his church; called his “house,” —

(1.) By way of appropriation; his lot, his potion, as a man’s house is to him. Deuteronomy 32:9, “The LORD’S portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance”

(2.) Because of his inhabitation. He dwells in his church by his especial and glorious presence, as a man in his own house, Revelation 21:3. Both which are springs of care, love, and delight. In this house was Moses faithful. And this commendation of Moses is on all occasions celebrated by the Jews. So they do in their hymns in the rituals of the Sabbath, in Machzor, part. i, fol. 49,

“Thou calledst him thy faithful servant; and didst put a glorious crown on his head, when he stood before thee in mount Sinai, and brought down the two tables of stone, wherein was written the observation of the Sabbath,” etc.

3. As to the comparison in these words, “as Moses,” we may consider, —

(1.) That the apostle was now entering upon the greatest strength of the Hebrews, and that wherein they were most warily and tenderly to be dealt withal; for although they would allow that the angels were in some respect above Moses, yet they adhered unto their old institutions principally on his account, as one who was so eminently testified unto by God himself. He was the visible internuncius and mediator between God and their forefathers when their church-state was erected, and they were brought into the enjoyment of those privileges wherein they were exalted above all the nations of the world. The apostle, therefore, deals not with them in this matter directly until he had made such a declaration of the person of Christ, and proved him to be so incomparably exalted above the angels, that they could not be justly prejudiced if he preferred him before Moses also; and which that he should do was of indispensable necessity unto his design.

(2.) That whereas, treating concerning the angels, he urgeth those testimonies concerning them which respect their service and subjection, coming to speak of Moses, he produceth the highest and most honorable testimony that is given concerning him in the whole Scripture. And hereby he both at once grants all that they had to plead concerning him in this matter, and removes all suspicion from himself, as though he intended to derogate any thing from him; under a jealousy whereof he suffered much, as is known, amongst the Jews. Moreover, he discovers a consistency between the true honor of Moses and the exaltation of Christ, which as yet many of them did not understand, but thought that if Christ and the gospel were established, Moses must be cast off and condemned.

(3.) In this comparison he minds them that the Lord Jesus was the great promised prophet of the church, whom they were to attend unto on pain of being cut off from the people of God. God says unto Moses, Deuteronomy 18:18, “I will raise up a prophet כָמוֹךָ,” “like unto thee,” “as thou art.” And yet it is said, Deuteronomy 34:10, that “there was no prophet in Israel כְּמשָׁה,” “like unto Moses,” or, “as Moses.” One signal prophet there was to be raised up that should be like unto him; that is, who should give new laws and ordinances unto the church, which no other prophet was to do.

And thus doth the apostle make an entrance into his intended proof of the preference or pre-eminence of Christ above Moses: —

1. He grants that they were both prophets, both apostles of God, sent by him to declare his mind and will; 2. That they were both faithful in the discharge of their office and trust; 3. That this trust extended itself to the whole church, and all that was to be done therein in the worship of God. Wherein the difference lay he declares in the next verse.

And in these two verses we may observe much of that wisdom which Peter ascribes unto Paul in his writing of this epistle. He is, as was said, entering upon the strongest hold of the Jews, that whereon they abode most pertinaciously in the observation of their ceremonial institutions, namely, the dignity and fidelity of Moses. At the entrance, therefore, of this discourse, he useth a compellation manifesting his intense love towards them and care of them, calling them his “brethren;” and therewithal minds them of that eminent privilege whereof by Jesus Christ they were made “partakers,” even the “heavenly calling,” which by the gospel they had received. Then, entering upon his designed comparison between Christ and Moses, wherein he was to be preferred above him, he doth it not before he had evinced not only that he was more excellent than the angels, but also far exalted above the whole creation of God, and, besides, the author of such incomparable and unspeakable mercies as no otherwise were or could be communicated unto men. Again, he lets them know that he was so far from derogating any thing from the honor and authority of Moses, as he was falsely accused to do, that he grants as much concerning him, and ascribes as much unto him, as any of themselves could justly grant or ascribe. And therefore, in the entrance of his discourse, he declares him to have been the legate, apostle, or ambassador of God unto the people in the sense before declared; and that in the discharge of his office and duty, he behaved himself with that fidelity which God himself approved of. This being the sum of what was pleaded by the Jews on the account of Moses, it is all granted and confirmed by the apostle. How suitable this course of procedure was to the removal of their prejudices, to inform their minds, to endear their affections, and consequently what wisdom was used in it, is open and evident. It remains that we consider the observation which is principally intended in the words, leaving others to be afterwards expressed.

XI. A diligent, attentive consideration of the person, offices, and work of Jesus Christ, is the most effectual means to free the souls of men from all entanglements of errors and darkness, and to keep them constant in the profession of the truth.

These are the ends for which it is here called for by the apostle. These Hebrews were yet entangled in their old Judaism, and by reason of their temptations, prejudices, and persecutions, were ready to decline from the truth. To free them from the one, and to prevent the other, the apostle calls them to the consideration of what he had delivered, and what he was yet to deliver, concerning the person, offices, and work of Christ. This being the principal intention of the place, we shall abide a little in the confirmation and application of our observation. What is in this duty considered subjectively was declared in the exposition of the words; what is in its manner of performance, and especial object, must be now further unfolded. And, —

1. There are in it these things ensuing: —

(1.) A diligent searching into the word, wherein Christ is revealed unto us. This himself directs unto, John 5:39. The Scriptures reveal him, declare him, testify of him. To this end are they to be searched, that we may learn and know what they so declare and testify. And this Peter tells us was done by the prophets of old, 1 Peter 1:10-11. They “searched diligently” into the revelation made in them by the Spirit of the person, suffering, and grace of Christ, with the glory that ensued thereon. Christ is exhibited unto us in the gospel; which is therefore called “The gospel of Christ,” and “The word of Christ,” — that is, concerning him, as our apostle declares, Romans 1:1-3. Both the prophets of old, saith he, and the gospel also, treat concerning the Son of God, Jesus Christ our Lord. Herein, then, consists the first part of this great duty. “SEARCH the Scriptures,” with all the advantage of help afforded, that you may find out, discern, and understand, what is revealed concerning him in them, as he is the end of the law and the fullness of the gospel, the center in whom all the prophecies, promises, rules, and precepts of them do meet. Without this aim in our reading, hearing, searching the word, we labor in vain, and contend uncertainly, as men beating the air. Unto him, and the knowledge of him, is all our study of the Scripture to be referred. And the reason why some, in the perusal of it, have no more light, profit, or advantage, is, because they have not more respect unto Christ in their inquiry. If he be once out of our eye in searching the Scripture, we know not what we do, nor whither we go, no more than doth the mariner at sea without regard to the pole-star. Truths to be believed are like believers themselves. All their life, power, and order, consist in their relation unto Christ; separated from him, they are dead and useless.

(2.) Meditation upon what is discovered unto us is also included in this duty. When a revelation was made of Christ and his work unto the blessed virgin his mother, it is said, she kept the sayings, “and pondered them in her heart,” Luke 2:19; as Eliphaz adviseth all to do, Job 22:22. And the apostle bids us take care that “the word of Christ may dwell in us richly,” Colossians 3:16; — that it may not pass through our minds with some transient effects, as it doth in reading and hearing, if it only casts some glances of light upon the understanding, some motions on the affections; but make its abode and dwell with us, that is, by constant meditation. But this duty is by many spoken unto, and the evil of the neglect of it sufficiently declared.

(3.) A spiritual endeavor, in this search and meditation, to bring the soul unto a conformity with that revelation which is made of Christ in the word. This is the genuine effect of them, if duly attended unto, 2 Corinthians 3:18. The glory of Christ is revealed in the gospel, as a face is represented in a glass. This we behold by a spiritual search into it, and meditation on it. By this intuition we are assimilated unto the glory so revealed. The Holy Ghost thereby brings upon our hearts that very likeness and image which we so contemplate. And although properly this be rather an effect of the duty treated of than any part of it, yet because it is that which we ought continually to aim at, and without the attainment whereof we labor in vain, I reckon it thereunto. When the image of Christ is wrought upon our hearts, and the dying and life of Christ made manifest in us, 2 Corinthians 4:10, then hath this duty its perfect work.

2. The object of it is to be considered. This in our proposition, following the apostle, is confined unto his person, his offices, and his work. These he dealeth with the Hebrews about.

(1.) He treateth about his person, and concerning that proposeth two things especially unto consideration; —

[1.] His glorious excellency;

[2.] His condescension and grace. The one is the sole subject of the first chapter; the other the principal subject of the second.

[1.] He calls them to consider the glorious excellency of the person of Christ. He had instructed them how in his divine nature he was the eternal Son of God, “the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person,” by whom the worlds were made; and therefore deservedly exalted, even as mediator, being incarnate, incomparably above the most glorious beings of all God’s creation. This he would have us especially to regard in our consideration of him. So did the apostles of old. They considered his glory as “the only-begotten of the Father,” therefore “full of grace and truth,” John 1:14. This excellency of the person of Christ brancheth itself into many instances, not here to be recapitulated. It may suffice in general that this is to be the principal object of our meditation. The revelation which he made of himself under the old testament had an especial respect unto this glory. Such is the description of him, Psalms 68:17-18, applied unto him, Ephesians 4:8; as that also, Isaiah 6:1-3, applied unto him, John 12:41. And it is a signal promise, that under the gospel we shall “see the king in his beauty,” Isaiah 33:17, or see by faith the uncreated excellencies and glory of this king of saints. And indeed the faith of the saints of the old testament did principally respect the glorious person of the Messiah. In other things they were very dark, and little can be gathered from the Scripture of what spiritual apprehension they had concerning other things whereby they were instructed; but their minds and faith were distinctly fixed on his person and his coming, leaving his work and the mystery of redemption unto his own wisdom and grace. Hence had they so many glorious descriptions of him granted unto them; which were always to keep up their hearts in a desire and expectation of him. And now under the new testament, it is the greatest trial of faith, whether it be evangelical, genuine, and thriving, namely, by the respect that it hath to the person of Christ. If that be its immediate and principal object, if it respect other things with regard unto him and in subordination unto him, it is assuredly of a heavenly extract; if otherwise, it may justly be suspected. This is that head of gold which the spouse admires in her beloved, Song of Solomon 5:11. And unspeakable is the influence which the consideration of this glorious excellency of Christ, attended with infinite wisdom and power, hath into our preservation in the truth.

[2.] His grace and condescension. This the apostle insists upon, Hebrews 2. His design therein is to show what this glorious and excellent person submitted himself unto, that he might save and deliver sinners. And this he greatly presseth, Philippians 2:5-8. This glorious one humbled himself into the form of a man, of a servant, unto death, the death of the cross. A due mixture of greatness and grace or goodness is the most powerful attractive and loadstone of affections. Hence God, who is infinitely great and infinitely good, is the ultimate object of them. In the person of Christ it is incomparably and inimitably, so that there is nothing in the creation to shadow it out unto us. See Revelation 1:5-6; Revelation 1:11; Revelation 1:13-16. He who is Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the prince of the kings of the earth, even he loved us, and washed us in his own blood. Hence unto a believing soul, he becomes “white and ruddy, the chiefest of ten thousand,” Song of Solomon 5:10. See Psalms 45:2-4. This is a means of preservation. Hence the apostle wonders at the Galatians, that they should depart from the truth, after that Jesus Christ had been evidently set forth before their eyes, crucified amongst them, Galatians 3:1; for an evident declaration of him, and representation of his love in the preaching of the gospel, is a sufficient means to preserve men from such miscarriages. We see what a warm, natural, blind devotion will be stirred up in the Papists by the superstitious pictures of Christ which they have amongst them. And if a false means shall be effectual to stir up a false love and devotion, shall not the true, proper, instituted means of the representation of the glory of Christ, in the gospel, be effectual to beget constancy and perseverance in faith and obedience? These things the apostle minds them off concerning his person, to be improved unto the ends proposed.

(2.) Consider him as to his offices. In these verses the apostle minds the Hebrews of his prophetical and sacerdotal; but he directs them to his regal also, which he had treated of, chapter 1. Neither doth he mind them so directly of the offices themselves, as the qualifications of his person on their account. His authority as a king, his mercifulness as our high priest, and his faithfulness as a prophet, or God’s apostle, are the things he would have them consider.

[1.] His authority, as king, lord, and heir of all, Hebrews 1:1-3. His dealing with the Hebrews was principally about the institution of new ordinances of worship, and abolishing of the old. This, sovereign authority was required unto. This the Lord Christ was furnished withal, as the Son, as the heir and lord of all. A due consideration hereof would thoroughly remove all doubts and scruples in this matter. And the neglect hereof is the cause of all that confusion and disorder that is at this day in the world about the worship of God. Men not considering the authority of Christ, either as instituting the ordinances of the gospel, or as judging upon their neglect and abuse, are careless about them, or do not acquiesce in his pleasure in them. This hath proved the ruin of many churches, which, neglecting the authority of Christ, have substituted their own in the room thereof. The consideration, therefore, of this kingly, legislative authority of the Lord Christ by men, as to their present duty and future account, must needs be an effectual means to preserve them in the truth and from backslidings. See Romans 14:9-12; 2 Corinthians 5:9-10.

[2.] His mercifulness, as the high priest of his church. This he had asserted, Hebrews 2:17, and that upon a full and evident previous demonstration. Consider him that is so, and as he is so. This, because of its importance, he often presseth, Hebrews 4:14-16; Hebrews 7:25-28; Hebrews 9:12-14; Hebrews 10:21-22. And this is of singular use to preserve believers from decays and fainting in the profession of the truth; for from his mercifulness, unspeakable encouragement, strength, and consolation, in obedience and profession of the gospel, may be educed, as in our progress, God assisting, we shall manifest. Want of a due improvement of this encouragement, and the assistance that may be obtained thereby, is the occasion of all the decays and backslidings that are found among professors. What can thrive in the soul, if the love, care, kindness, and ability to save, that are in Christ, — all which are included in this mercifulness, — are neglected?

[3.] His faithfulness. This relates unto his office prophetical, which is by the apostle ascribed unto him, and confirmed to be in him in these verses. Yea, this is that which he would have them immediately and in the first place to consider, and which being once fixed on their minds, those other things must needs have the more effectual influence upon them. For if he be absolutely faithful in his work, his authority and mercy ought surely diligently to be heeded. To this end the apostle compares him in particular with Moses in these verses, and in the next exalts him above him. And no better medium could be used to satisfy the Hebrews, who were sufficiently persuaded of the faithfulness of Moses. He being, then, ultimately to reveal the will of God, and being absolutely faithful in his so doing, is to be attended unto. Men may thence learn what they have to do in the church and worship of God, even to observe and to do whatever he hath commanded, and nothing else, Matthew 28:20; Revelation 1:5; Revelation 3:14.

(3.) As his person and offices, so his work also is proposed unto our consideration, for the ends mentioned. This the apostle fully discourseth, Hebrews 2:9-10; Hebrews 2:14-15; Hebrews 2:17-18. The specialties of this work are too many to be here so much as recounted. In general, the love and grace that were in it, the greatness of it, the benefit we receive by it, the glory of the wisdom, goodness, grace, holiness, and righteousness that shines forth in it, are the principal immediate objects of our faith and consideration.

These things we have instanced in particular, as those which, being of great importance in themselves, we are likewise directed unto by the series of the apostle’s discourse; but we mention them not exclusively unto other concernments of the Lord Christ. Whole Christ, and all of him, is by us diligently to be considered, that we may attain, and we shall attain, the ends laid down in the precedent observation: for, —

1. Our faith and our obedience are our walking with God, Genesis 17:1, or our walking in the truth, 2 John 1:4; 3 John 1:4 : and that which is principally incumbent on them that would walk aright, is to have a due regard unto their way. This way is Christ, John 14:6. “I am the way,” saith he; “no man cometh unto the Father but by me:” such a way as wayfaring men shall not err in, Isaiah 35:8; such a “living way” as is also a guide. In attendance, therefore, unto him, we shall neither err nor miscarry. And as all mistakes in faith arise from a want of a due respect unto him as the real way of going unto God, so all aberrations in doctrine or worship spring out of a neglect of a due consideration of his person and offices, wherein all truths do center, and whereby they are made effectual and powerful.

2. They that consider him in the way and manner explicated, cannot but take him for their only guide in the things of God. See John 1:14, with John 6:68-69. To whom else should they go or betake themselves? This is foretold concerning him, Isaiah 42:4. And for this duty we have the command of God, Matthew 17:5, “HEAR HIM.” This they will do who consider him. And to them who do so, he is given to be a guide and a leader, Isaiah 55:4; and a light, Isaiah 51:4; and a shepherd, to direct them in the fresh pastures of the gospel with care and tenderness, Isaiah 40:11. And no soul shall miscarry under his conduct, or wander into danger under his care. But here lies the root of men’s failings in this matter, — they seek for truth of themselves and of other men, but not of Christ. What they can find out by their own endeavors, what other men instruct them in or impose upon them, that they receive. Few have that faith, love, and humility, and are given up unto that diligent contemplation of the Lord Christ and his excellencies, which are required in those who really wait for his law so as to learn the truth from him.

If it be yet inquired whether these who duly consider Jesus Christ may not yet mistake the truth and fall into errors? I answer, they may; but, —

(1.) Not into any that are pernicious. He will assuredly preserve such persons from destructive errors. As he hath not prayed that they may be taken out of the world, but preserved in it, so he doth not take them out of all possibility of errors or mistakes, but from such only as may prejudice the eternal condition of their souls.

(2.) They shall not act their mistakes and errors with a spirit of envy, malice, and disquietment against the truth; for none that duly considereth Jesus Christ can be captivated under the power of such a frame of spirit, seeing there is nothing more unlike unto him.

(3.) Even their mistakes are from failures in their consideration of the Lord Christ, either in the matter or manner of it. Either they search not after him with that spiritual diligence which they ought, or they meditate not on the discoveries that are made of him in the word, or they labor not after assimilation and conformity unto him; and upon these neglects it is no wonder if errors and mistakes do arise.

3. Because “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hid in Christ,” Colossians 2:3; and therefore from him alone are they to be received, and in him alone to be learned. Now, wisdom and knowledge have both of them respect unto truth. Where they are obtained, there truth itself doth dwell. In the due consideration of the Lord Christ are these treasures opened unto us. And although we may not at once clearly and fully discern them, yet we are in the proper way to know them and possess them. There is not the least line of truth, how far soever it may be extended, and how small soever it may at length appear, but the springs of it lie in the person of Christ. And then we learn it aright, when we learn it in the spring, or as it is in him, Ephesians 4:21; which when we have done, we may safely trace it down, and follow it unto its utmost extent. But he that looks on gospel truths as sporades, as scattered up and down independently one of another, — who sees not the root, center, and knot of them in Jesus Christ, — it is most probable that when he goes about to gather them for his use, he will also take up things quite of another nature. They say that all moral virtues are knit up in one, that is, righteousness; so that he who hath that hath all the rest, at least radically and virtually. This I know, that all spiritual truths are knit up and centred in him who is “the truth;” and they who have “learned him,” as the apostle speaks, Ephesians 4:20, have with him received the seeds of all truth: which being watered and attended as they ought, will in due time flourish into all their proper branches and fruits; for all things are gathered into one head in him, Ephesians 1:10.

4. The right performance of this duty enlivens, excites, and acts all those graces and gracious affections, which are effectual to preserve us in the truth, and to keep us from decays in our profession. The Lord Christ being the proper object of them, and this consideration consisting in the application of the faculties of our souls unto that object, by a due exercise of those graces, they must needs be increased and augmented thereby; as all grace grows and thrives in and by its exercise, and ordinarily not otherwise. And when any grace is so applied unto Christ as spiritually to touch him, virtue goes forth from him for its strengthening. The neglect then also hereof must of necessity produce the contrary effect, John 15:5-6. Thus in particular is faith increased; for according as the object of it is cleared, manifested, represented suitable and desirable unto the soul, so is faith itself exited, stirred up, and strengthened. Now, this is no otherwise done but when the soul is enabled graciously to ponder on the person and offices of Christ. There it finds all that is needful unto it to make it happy and blessed, — to procure pardon, peace, righteousness, and glory for it. This faith receives, and is improved by it. So the apostle informs us, 2 Corinthians 3:18. Having boldness and liberty given us in the gospel to consider and behold by faith the glory of Christ, we are thereby transformed into his likeness and image, — namely, by an increase of faith, whereby we “grow up into him who is the head.” And this brings along with it an increase in all other graces, whereby we are preserved in the profession and practice of the truth.

By this means, also, a fountain of godly sorrow is opened in the hearts of believers; which is a precious grace, Zechariah 12:10. The consideration of the Lord Christ as pierced for us, or by us, will melt and humble the soul, or it will never yield unto any ordinance of God.

The spouse, in like manner, in the Canticles, giving an account of her great and incomparable love unto her beloved, manifests that it arose from the exact consideration that she had taken of his person and all that belonged thereunto, Song of Solomon 5:9-16. The like may be said of all other graces; and by these must we be preserved, or utterly fail. As to the use of these things, —

(1.) We may see hence the reason why so many turn aside, and fall off from the truth and ways of the gospel. They have given over a due consideration of Jesus Christ, his person, offices, and mediation, and so have lost the means of their preservation. They have been weary of him, not seeing form or comeliness in him for which he should be desired. What a sad instance have we hereof in those poor deluded creatures, who, neglecting him, pretend to find all light and life within themselves! This is their Beth-el, the beginning of their transgression; for when men have neglected the person of Christ, is it any wonder if they despise his ways and ordinances, as is their manner? Indeed, the ordinances of the gospel, its worship and institutions, have no excellency, no beauty in them, but what ariseth from their relation unto the person and offices of Christ; and if they are neglected, these must needs be burdensome and grievous. And as it is in vain to draw men unto the embracement of them who know him not, who are not acquainted with him, seeing they appear unto them the most grievous and intolerable of all things that can be imposed on them; so they who on any account cease to consider him by faith, as he is proposed unto them in the gospel, cannot long abide in their observation. Give such men the advantages of liberty, and keeping up a reputation of profession without them, — which they suppose a new and singular opinion will furnish them withal, — and they will quickly cast them off as a burden not to be borne. And as it is with gospel worship, so it is with all the articles of faith, or important truths that we are to believe. The center and knot of them all is in the person of Christ. If they are once loosed from thence, if their union in him be dissolved, if men no more endeavor to learn “the truth as it is in Jesus,” or to acquaint themselves with the will of God, as he hath “gathered all things unto a head in him,” they scatter, as it were, of their own accord from their minds; so that it may be they retain no one of them, or if they do so, yet not in a right manner, so as to have an experience of the power of them in obedience. This is the cause of the apostasies amongst us; Christ is neglected, — not considered, not improved. A light within, or a formal worship without, is enthroned in his stead; and thence all sorts of errors and evils do of their own accord ensue. Deal with any whom you see to neglect his ways and truths, and you will find this to be the state of things with them: — they have left off to value and esteem the person of Christ; or they had never any acquaintance with him. And in vain is it to dispute with men about the streams whilst they despise the fountain. The apostle gives us a threefold miscarriage in religion, Colossians 2:18 : —

[1.] A pretense of a voluntary, uncommanded humility, a pretended mortification, indeed a bare covering of base and filthy pride;

[2.] A worshipping of angels, an instance to express all false, self-invented worship; and,

[3.] Curiosity in vain speculations, or men’s intruding themselves into the things which they have not seen, setting out things with swelling words of vanity, wherewith in truth they have no acquaintance, whereof they have no experience. And all these, saith he, Colossians 2:19, proceed from hence, that they “hold not the Head;” they have let go the Lord Christ, from whom all truths are to be derived, and consequently all truth itself. Here lies the spring of our frequent apostasies.

(2.) Again, we may hereby examine and try ourselves. Do we at any time find any of the ways, institutions, or ordinances of Christ grievous or burdensome unto us? do we find a secret dislike of them, or not that delight in them which we have formerly enjoyed? If we search into the root of our distempers, we shall find that our hearts and spirits have not been exercised with that consideration of the person and offices of Christ which our duty calls for. We have not been kept in a constant adoration of his majesty, admiration of his excellency, delight in his beauty, joy in his undertaking, holy thoughtfulness of his whole mediation. This hath betrayed us into our lukewarmness and indifferency, and made us faint and weary in his ways. Hence also all endeavors for a recovery from such a frame, that regard only the particular instances that we are sensible of, are languid and successless. He that finds himself faint in or weary of any of the ways of Christ or any duties of obedience unto him, or that discovers an undervaluation of any of the truths of the gospel, as to their use or importance, and thinks to recover himself and retrieve his spirit only by applying himself unto that particular wherein he is sensible of his failure, will labor in the fire and to no purpose. It may be that after some days, or months, or years, he will find himself more at a loss than ever; and that because although he striveth, yet he striveth not lawfully. If we would recover ourselves, we must go to the source and beginning of our decays.

(3.) This tends directly unto our instruction in these perilous days, such as the latter days are foretold to be. All means that ever the devil made use of from the foundation of the world, to draw off or deter men from gospel obedience, are at this day displayed. The world smiles upon apostates, and promiseth them a plentiful supply of such things as the corrupt nature of man esteems desirable. Errors and false worship, with temptations from them, spread themselves with wings of glorious pretences over the ‘face of the whole earth. Trials, troubles, storms, persecutions, attend and threaten on every hand; and “he only that endureth unto the end shall be saved.” He that, like Jonah, is asleep in this tempest, is at the door of ruin; he that is secure in himself from danger, is in the greatest danger of falling by security. What, then, shall we do? what means shall we use for our preservation? Take the counsel of our blessed apostle, “Holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the apostle and high priest of our profession;” and again, Hebrews 12:3, “Consider him who endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” Be much in the consideration of the person, offices, and work of Christ. This will conform you unto him, derive strength from him, arm you with the same mind that was in him, increase all your graces, keep you from being weary, and give you assured victory. He deserves it, you need it; let it not be omitted.

5. This will give direction unto them who are called unto the work of teaching others. The person and offices of Christ are the things which principally they are to insist upon; for that which is the chiefest object of the church’s faith ought to be the chiefest subject of our preaching. So Paul tells the Galatians, that in his preaching Christ was evidently crucified before their eyes, Galatians 3:1. He proposed Christ crucified unto their consideration, “determining,” as he speaks in another place, “to know nothing amongst them but Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” For if the consideration of Christ be such an important duty in believers, certainly the due proposal of him unto their consideration is no less in preachers. Christ alone is to be preached absolutely, and all other truths as they begin, end, and center in him. To propose the Lord Christ as amiable, desirable, useful, and every way worthy of acceptation, is the great duty of the dispensers of the gospel.

I have insisted the longer on this observation, because it compriseth the main design of the apostle’s words, and is also of singular use to all that profess the gospel. Those which remain shall be only named.

XII. The union of believers lies in their joint profession of faith in the person and offices of Christ, upon a participation in the same heavenly calling. So it is described by the apostle; and the addition of other things, as necessary thereunto, is vain.

XIII. The ordering of all things in the church depends on the sovereign appointment of the Father. He appointed the Lord Christ unto his power and his office in the church.

XIV. The faithfulness of the Lord Christ in the discharge of the trust committed unto him, is the great ground of faith and assurance unto believers in the worship of the gospel. To that end is it mentioned by the apostle.

XV. All things concerning the worship of God, in the whole church or house now under the gospel, are no less perfectly and completely ordered and ordained by the Lord Jesus Christ than they were by Moses under the law. The comparison is to be taken not only subjectively but objectively also, or it will not suit the apostle’s purpose. As the faithfulness of Moses extended itself unto the whole worship of God and all things concerning it under the old testament, so that of Christ must be extended to the whole worship of God and all the concernments of it under the new testament It is true, the faithfulness of Christ intensively would be no less than that of Moses, if he revealed all that was committed unto him of his Father unto that purpose, for Moses did no more: but herein would Moses be preferred before him, if all things any way needful or useful to or in the worship of God, in matter and manner, were committed unto him, so that nothing might be added thereunto, and not so unto Jesus Christ; which surely neither the design of the apostle in this place nor the analogy of faith will allow.


Verses 3-6

The apostle having made his entrance into the comparison designed by him between Christ and Moses, and showed in general wherein they were alike, and as to his purpose equal (which that those who are compared together should be in some things is necessary), he proceeds to evince the prelation of Christ and his exaltation above him in sundry signal instances, the mater principally aimed at: —

Hebrews 3:3-6. πλείονος γὰρ δόξης οὗτον παρὰ ΄ωυσῆν ἠξίωται, καθ᾿ ὅσον πλείονα τιμὴν ἕχει τοῦ οἴκου ὁ κατασκευάσας αὐτόν· πᾶς γὰρ οι῏κος κατασκευάζεται ὑπό τινος, ὁ δὲ τὰ πάντα κατασκευάσας, θεός. καὶ ΄ωυσῆς μὲν πιστὸς ἐν ὅλῳ τῷ οἴκῳ αὐτοῦ, ὠς θεράπων, εἰς μαρτύριον τῶν λαληθησομένων, χριστὸς δὲ υἱὸς ἐπὶ τὸν οἱκον αὐτοῦ· οὗ οἷκός ἐσμεν ἡμεῖς, ἐάπερ τὴν παῤῥησίαν, καὶ τὸ καύχημα τῆς ἐλπίδος μέχρι τέλους βεζαίαν κατάσχωμεν.

πείονος. Vulg. Lat., “Amplioris enim gloriae iste prae Moyse dignus est habitus.” Retaining the case of the Greek substantive, the Latin is corrupt, Valla, Erasmus, and Vatablus observe. But, the sense is not obscured. The Syriac renders not ἠξίωται at all, but reads the words “For the glory” (or “honor”) “of this man is more” (or “greater”) “than that of Moses.”

Erasmus and Beza supply “tanto” at the beginning of the verse, to answer καθ᾿ ὅσον, which they translate “quanto,” in the next words; or they take that expression to answer “tanto,” “quanto.” Ours, “in quantum,” “inasmuch,” properly.

οὗτος, “iste,’ “this man.” A demonstrative pronoun, used sometimes in a way of contempt, as John 9:29, τοῦτον οῦκ οἰδαμεν πόθεν ἐστίν, where we render it “This fellow,” as being spoken with contempt; but more frequently in a way of excellency, as, οὗτος ἐστιν ὁ δημοσθένης, — “This is that Demosthenes.” So Lucian, δείξει σὲ τῳ δακτύλῳ οὗτος ἐκεῖνος λέγων· He shall point at thee, saying, This is that excellent person.” Which the poet expresseth, —

“At pulchrum est digito monstrari et dicier, Hic est.” — Pers. Sat. . Mostly it is simply demonstrative and distinctive, as in this place: “This man of whom we speak,” or “person.”

The words of comparison are doubled: πλείονος παρὰ ΄ωυσῆν, for ἠ ΄ωυσῆς, or τοῦ ΄ωυσέως; or absolutely, δόξης παρὰ. But the conjunction of παρά with an adjective comparative, as it is not unusual, so it is emphatical, and denotes the greatness of the prelation of Christ above Moses.

᾿ηξίωται, “dignus habitus est,” — “is” (or “was”) “counted worthy.” But the word signifies not only a bare being accounted worthy, but so as also to be possessed of that whereof one is so esteemed worthy. ᾿αξιωθεὶς δωρῶν is not only “worthy of gifts,” or “ rewards,” but he that is “muneribus donatus qaibus dignus censetur;” that is, possessed of the rewards whereof he is worthy. So that ἀξιωθεὶς τιμῆς and δόξης, is he that hath that honor and glory whereof he is esteemed worthy. And therefore the Syriac leaves this out, namely,”esteem” or “accounting,” and expresseth that which is principally intended: “His glory was greater than that of Moses.”

πλείονα τιμὴν ἕχει τοῦ οἴκου. Vulg. Lat,” Quanto ampliorem honorem habet domus, qui fabricavit illam.” Rendering the Greek construction by the same case, οἴκου by domus, not only is the speech barbarous, but the sense is also perverted; yet the Rhemists retain this ambiguity, “By so much as more ample glory than the house hath he that framed it.” But πλείονα τιμὴν ἔχει τοῦ οἴκου, is “majorem,” or “ampliorem habet honorem quam ipsa domus;” — “ hath more honour than the house,” or “the house itself.”

δόξη, and τιμή “glory and honor,” are used by the apostle as ἰσοδυναμοῦντα, words of the same importance and signification; and so are they frequently used elsewhere in the Scripture.

τοῦ οἵκου, “the house.” Many of the old translators render it “the temple,” because the temple of old was frequently called חבַּיִת, “the house.” But the allusion of the apostle is general unto any house, and the building of it.

And Moses was faithful ὡς θεράπων, “tanquam famulus;” Syr., עבְדא, “servus,” “a servant.’ θεράπων is properly and most usually one that doth “inservire sacris,” that attends upon and ministers about holy things, λειτουργός. So amongst the heathen, θεραπεύειν τοὺς θεούς, and ἡ περὶ τοὺς θεοὺς θεραπεία, — “the sacred service of the gods.” So Pollux Onomast. lib. 1, ᾿ονόματα τοὺς θεοὺς; θεραπευόντων· τῶν θεῶν θεραπευταὶ ἱερεῖς, νεωκόροι, the same with priests, sacred officers. The word is used in the New Testament only in this place; θεραπεία and θεραπεύω often, but always for being or curing the sick and infirm; which is another sense of the word. And in this sense it is derived from the Hebrew רָפָא“to heal;” whence is רָפָאִיםrendered sometimes “physicians,” sometimes “dead men.” θεραπεύειν, when it is used elsewhere for “to serve,” is applied unto the service of a freeman, and is more honorable than δουλεύειν, although that also is translated into an honorable use in the gospel, from the object and lord or author of it: δοῦλός ᾿ιησοῦ χριστοῦ, ἀφωρισμένος, Romans 1:1; — “A servant of Jesus Christ separated to the service of the gospel.”

῾ο κατασκευάσας, “qui praeparat,” “prepareth,” “frameth it;” and, as respecting τὸν οἴκον, a house “built it.”

“If we hold fast τὴν παῤῥησίαν.” Vulg. Lat., “fiduciam,” “trust” or “confidence.” Syr., גּלְיוּת, “the revelation,” or “opening of the face;” alluding to that of the apostle, 2 Corinthians 3:18, ᾿ανακεκαλυμμένῳ, “With open face behold the glory of God:” an Hebraism for confidence. Beza, “loquendi libertatem,” “freedom” (or “boldness”) “of speaking unto God.” So παῤῥησιάζομαι is most frequently used to speak openly or boldly. And as παῤῥησία is joined here with καύχημα, “glorying,” or “boasting,” it may have that sense. And the rise of the word refers to speaking. It is from ῥῆσις, “dictio,” “a saying,” or “speaking,” from εἴρω, “dico;” and is as much as πανρησία, the speaking of all that is or ought to be spoken; “fandi libertas,” “a liberty of speaking,” and “boldness in speaking,” notwithstanding opposition and danger. So he in the poet: —

“Dicam equidem, licet ille mihi mortemque minetur,” “He would speak truth, though it cost him his life.”

And so παῤῥησίαν is to give liberty of speech. Boldness and confidence absolutely is θάῤῥος. Ours leave Beza (which they do seldom), and render this word “confidence.” It is used frequently in the New Testament; sometimes adverbially, for “boldly,” “openly,” “plainly,” especially by John in the Gospel; sometimes substantively, for “boldness,” or “confidence;” but constantly in an indifferent sense. Nowhere doth it denote any Christian grace, but only in this epistle of Paul and the first epistle of John.

καὶ τὸ καύχημα τῆς ἐλπίδος. Vulg. Lat., “et gloriam spei,” “the glory of hope.” So the Rhemists. “Gloriationem spei,” “the glorying” (or “boasting”) “of hope,” Arias, Erasm., Vatab. Ours,”the rejoicing of hope,” wanting a word to render “gloriatio;” usual, [i. e., indifferent,] and not restrained to an ill sense. And καύχημα is sometimes used for

ἀγαλλίαμα. Beza, “Spem illam de qua gloriamur,” “that hope whereof we boast.” This word is peculiar to Paul, and not used in the New Testament but by him, and by him frequently; as are also καμχάομαι and καύχησις. And it is a word, as that foregoing, ἐκ τῶν μέσων, of an inherent sense and acceptation, which may be applied either unto good or evil. Some καύχημα, or “boasting,” is not good, James 4:16; and there is a καύχημα which here and elsewhere our apostle commends, a rejoicing, or exultation in that which is good.

τῆς ἐλπίδος. Syr., דְּסַבְיֵח, “of his hope;” that is, the hope we have in him. Ethiop., “If we hold fast our grace, and our rejoicing, and our hope.”

βεβαίαν κατάσχωμεν, “firmam retinuerimus.” βεβαίαν is properly referred to παῤῥσίαν, not agreeing with καύχημα in gender, nor with ἐλπίδος in case; which latter it may have yet respect unto, supposing a trajection in the words. Our translators have fitly rendered these words by “holding fast our hope firm;” for “firm” regards the thing held, and not our manner of holding. Beza supposeth it ought to be βεβαίον, but unnecesarily (as such conjectures were the only fault of that great interpreter), for it refers principally to παῤῥησίαν. The Syriac expresseth it not.

The rest of the words are plain and obvious. Only the Vulgar Latin stumbles oft in this verse; It renders ου οι῏κός ἐσμεν, “quae domus sumus nos,” as the Rhemists; “which house we are,” for “whose house are we.” The translator seems to have read ὅς, not ου: and so Beza affirms that he found it in one Greek copy.

And again, “Christ as a son in domo sua,” “in his house;” that is ἔν οἴκω αὐτοῦ, for ἐπί τὸν οι῏κον, “over his own house.” The Rhemists retain “in his house,” corrupting the sense. αὐτοῦ, not αὐτοῦ, “his own house,”’not “his house;” or, if the relative be retained, it refers unto Christ, — “I will,” saith he, “build my church,” — and not to God the Father. (2)

EXPOSITION. — Ebrard finds a threefold difference between Christ and Moses: — the former filling the place of the κατασκευάσας, the latter that of a part of the familia; the former being Lord of the living house, the latter serving in a house which was for a testimony of a future revelation; the former being the Son, the latter a servant. — ED.

Hebrews 3:3-6. — For this [man] was counted worthy of more glory [was more honorable] than Moses; inasmuch as he who hath builded the house [an house] hath more honor than the house. For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God. And Moses verily [was] faithful in all his house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were [after] to be spoken. But Christ [was faithful] as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of [or glorying in] the hope firm unto the end.

The apostle proceeds in these words with his design of evidencing the excellency and prelation of Christ above Moses, as he had done before in reference unto angels and all other revealers of the will of God unto the church, reserving an especial consideration for him who was of especial esteem with the Hebrews. Herewithal he expresseth the reason of his desire that they would seriously “consider” him, namely, in his person and offices.

Two things in general are to be borne in mind for the right understanding of these words, and the meaning of the apostle in them: —

First, That he is now dealing with the Hebrews in the last and greatest instance of the excellency of the gospel, taken from the consideration of his person by whom it was revealed; for here he prefers him above Moses, whose dignity was the last plea and pretense of the Hebrews for retaining their old church-state and customs. But no plea or pretense will prescribe unto the authority and honor of Jesus Christ.

Secondly, That the subject he here treats of is not his utmost intention; but he useth it as an argument or medium to prevail with them unto constancy and perseverance, as the verses immediately ensuing do manifest.

The connection of the discourse is denoted in the first word, “for,” a causal conjunction, which sometimes renders a reason of what hath been before spoken; sometimes directs unto an inference of what is afterwards to be introduced, as we have seen, Hebrews 2:10-11. In this place it is evident that the apostle doth not render a reason of what he had last affirmed, — namely, that Christ was faithful in all the house of God, as was Moses, — seeing he passeth directly unto a new argument for his general end and purpose, namely, the dignity of Christ above Moses; which he manifests by sundry instances. Neither doth this word respect the ensuing proof of the pre-eminence of Christ asserted, as if he had said, ‘He is worthy of more glory than Moses, because he that buildeth the house,’etc. But there is a retrospect in it unto the first verse, and a reason of it induced why it was so necessary for the Hebrews diligently to consider “the apostle of our profession,” namely, because of his glory, honor, and dignity, above that of Moses. ‘Consider him,’saith he, ‘for he is worthy of more glory than Moses;’which he demonstrates in these four verses, and then returns again unto his exhortation. This is the order of the discourse; and in it there is a proposition, and two arguments for its confirmation, which contain the subject-matter of it.

The proposition laid down by the apostle in these verses is plain and evident; so also do the arguments whereby he confirms it seem to be. But the illustration that he makes of them, and the inferences he takes from them, are involved. Wherefore these things in general we shall endeavor to give some light into.

The proposition is this, that “Christ was counted worthy of more glory than Moses” The first proof of this proposition lies in these words of Hebrews 2:3, “Inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honor than the house;” and this he further confirms or illustrates, Hebrews 2:4, “For every house is builded of some; but he that built all things is God;” the latter expressly in Hebrews 2:5-6, of which afterwards.

As for the manner of arguing here used by the apostle, it is educed from the foregoing verses. In the comparison made between Christ and Moses, he allowed Moses to be faithful, proving it by the testimony of God himself, who had said he was “faithful in all his house.” The church or people of God being in that testimony called “The house of God,” and that by God himself, the apostle takes advantage of the metaphor to express the dignity of Christ in his relation to the church under that expression of “The house of God;” for not only the things themselves, but the manner of their expression in the Scripture, is of great importance, and much wisdom, much acquaintance with the mind of God, may be attained by a due consideration thereof. And a double relation unto this house doth he ascribe unto him, which are the principal relations that attend any house whatever. The first is of a builder, whence he takes his first argument, Hebrews 2:3-4; the other is of an owner, inhabiter, and possessor, whence he takes his second, Hebrews 2:5-6. And these are the principal respects of any house: without the first, it is not; and without the latter, it is of no use.

In his first argument, Hebrews 2:3, the proposition only is expressed, the assumption is included, and the conclusion left unto an obvious inference; for plainly the apostle reasons syllogistically in this case.

The proposition is this, “He that buildeth the house hath more honor than the house.”

The assumption included is, “But Christ built the house, and Moses was only of the house, or a part of it: and therefore he had more glory than Moses.”

That this assumption is included in the words is evident both from the necessity of it, to infer the purpose of the apostle, as also from his management of his second argument to the same end, Hebrews 2:5-6 : for therein the proposition is only supposed, as having been before, for the substance of it, expressed; and the assumption is plainly laid down, as containing the new medium which he insists upon.

The proposition of the argument in these verses is, ‘A son over his own house is of more honor than a servant in the house of another.’This is only supposed.

The assumption is expressed, “But Christ is a son over his own house; Moses was only a servant in another’s house:” whence the conclusion is plain and evident.

As, then, the proposition in the latter argument is supposed, so is the assumption in the former.

In the confirmation of the first argument the fourth verse is inserted, “For every house is builded of some; but he that built all things is God.”

Some say these words are produced in the confirmation of the proposition of the first argument, “He that buildeth the house hath more honor than the house ;” and so, that it is God the Father who is intended in them. For to prove that he who buildeth the house is more honorable than the house, he instanceth in him who is the great builder or creator of all things, even God himself, who is infinitely more glorious than all things built by him; which holds in proportion to all other builders and their buildings. Others say that this is affirmed in confirmation of the minor proposition, namely, that “Christ built the house;” because it being a house, it must be built by some; and being such a house as it is, it could be built by none but him who is God. And these take the Son to be expressed by that name, “God.” And some there are who would not have any proof to be intended in these words, but a mere illustration of what was before spoken, by a comparison between Christ and his works about his house, and God and his house in the creation of all; which way the Socinians take. The true intendment of the apostle we hope to evince in the ensuing exposition.

“For this [man] was counted worthy of more glory [was more honorable] than Moses.” Here lies the proposition that is proposed unto confirmation; wherein two things occur:

1. A supposition, — “that Moses was counted worthy of glory;”

2. An assertion, — “that the Lord Christ was much more worthy of glory.”

1. The apostle grants and supposeth that Moses was ἀξιωθείς δόξης, “counted worthy of glory;” or “truly glorious and honorable.” Glory is “excellentis virtutis fama cum laude,” — -”the illustrious fame of an excellency with praise.” And in this glory there are two things; — first, an excellency deserving honor; and, secondly, the fame and reputation of that excellency. Where both these concur, there is a person ἀξιωθείς δόξης, “worthy of glory,” and really honorable. So the glory of God himself consisteth in his essential excellencies, and their manifestation.

For the first, with respect unto Moses, it consisteth principally in two things: —

First, In the work wherein he was employed. The work itself was glorious, and rendered him so who was employed about it. So our apostle declares, 2 Corinthians 3:7, “The ministration of death, written, and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses, for the glory of his countenance.” It was glorious, and rendered him so; and one part of this ministration is called “the glory,” Romans 9:4. The giving of the law, the erection of the visible church-state in the posterity of Abraham, attended with all that glorious worship which was instituted therein, was a work of exceeding glory. In this work was Moses employed, and that in so high and honorable a manner as to be the sole mediator therein between God and the people, Galatians 3:19; as himself speaketh, Deuteronomy 5:5, “I stood between the LORD and you at that time, to shew you the word of the LORD.” This was his peculiar glory, that God singled him out from amongst all the posterity of Abraham to be thus employed.

Secondly, In his fidelity in the discharge of his work and office. This is a singular excellency, which added unto the former dignity makes it complete. It is no glory for a man to be employed in a glorious work and to miscarry therein; it will rather end in his dishonor and reproach: as he in the fable, who would needs drive the chariot of the Sun, which ended in the breaking of his neck. Better never be employed in the work of God, than deal unfaithfully in it. But a glorious trust and great faithfulness therein render the condition of a man really excellent. So was it with Moses, as was declared in the preceding verses. However he might fail personally in his own faith as a believer, he failed not ministerially in his fidelity as the “internuncius” between God and his people; and every personal failing in faith doth not impeach a man’s ministerial fidelity, or faithfulness in his office. In these things was he excellent. It is a thing very glorious, to be faithful in an office committed to us of God.

Secondly, He had the fame and reputation of these excellencies on a double account: —

First, In the testimony that was given him by God himself as to his fidelity in the discharge of his trust. This God gave him during his life, as was showed, and sundry times after his death. This is the great foundation of all his renown. And what greater honor could be done unto any creature, than to be adorned with such an illustrious testimony by God himself? Greater honor never had any, but He alone with whom he is compared. And thus God gives grace and glory, — grace to be faithful, and glory upon men’s being so.

Secondly, He had glory in that honor and esteem which was continued unto him in the church, until the Son himself came. Until that time, the whole church of God was precisely bound unto the observation of the laws and ordinances appointed by him; and thereon did all their happiness in this world and that to come depend. That was the condition of their temporal and eternal welfare. The neglect hereof exposed them unto all misery from God and man. This was the charge that God left on them throughout all their generations: “Remember the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb, for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments,” Malachi 4:4.

This made his name and remembrance honorable unto the church, and which the sinful abuse of turned afterwards to the snare, temptation, and disadvantage of the incredulous Jews; according to the prophetical imprecation of the psalmist,

“Let their table become a snare before them, and that which should have been for their welfare become a trap,” Psalms 69:22 :

which our apostle declares to have befallen them on their rejection of the gospel, through an obstinate adherence to the letter of the law of Moses, Romans 11:7-10. Yet we may observe, that in all the honor which God gave Moses in the church, he never commanded, he never allowed, that any should worship him or adore him, pray to him or make images of him. To give this honor unto saints, angels, or others, is men’s invention, not God’s institution. God knows how to give glory unto his servants without imparting unto them his own, the royalty of his crown: “his glory will he not give unto another,”

This, then, was the glory of Moses; and if we shall add hereunto other concernments of him, they will make it the more conspicuous. Such were the care of God over him in his infancy, his miraculous call to his office, the honor he had in the world, the miracles which he wrought, and the signal testimony given him from God, in all the contests about his ministry; and many things of the like nature might be added. But it is the things which appertain unto his office and the discharge of it which are principally intended.

This, therefore, the apostle grants, that he might not give the least suspicion unto the Hebrews that he would detract from the due praise and honor of Moses, as he was commonly traduced amongst them to do. See Acts 21:28; Acts 25:8. The unbelieving part of them, indeed, boasted of Moses, unto the contempt of the Lord Christ: John 9:29, “We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not whence he is.” And they generally thought the prevalency of the gospel was derogatory unto his honor and law, Acts 13:45; Acts 13:50. But these things moved not him to deal partially in the truth. He allows unto Moses his due honor and glow, and yet asserts the excellency of Christ above him, showing evidently the consistency of these things, as there neither is nor can be any opposition or contrariety between any ordinances or institutions of God. And we may hence observe, —

I. Every one who is employed in the service of God in his house, and is faithful in the discharge of his work and trust therein, is worthy of honor: so was Moses.

It becometh neither the greatness nor goodness of God that it should be otherwise. And he hath established it by an everlasting law. “Them that honor me,” saith he, “I will honor; and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed,” 1 Samuel 2:30. The honoring of God in the service of his house is that which, by this unalterable edict for its being honored, is ratified and confirmed. They who therein honor God shall be honored, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. They are honorable; for, —

First, Their work is so. Reputation, glory, and honor, attend honorable works. This work is God’s. The church is “God’s husbandry, God’s building,” 1 Corinthians 3:9. They have a great work in hand, God’s work; and have a glorious συνεργός, or “associate,” even God himself. God so works by them as that also he works with them, and they are συνεργοὶ θεοῦ, — “laborers together with God.” They work also in the name and on the behalf of God, 2 Corinthians 5:20. Whatever glory and honor, then, can possibly redound unto any from the nature of the work wherein they are employed, it all belongs to them. Hence the apostle commands that we should “esteem such very highly in love for their work’s sake,” 1 Thessalonians 5:13. Their work makes them worthy of estimation, yea, of “double honor,” 1 Timothy 5:17. What that is in particular, it may be, is uncertain; but it is certain that not an ordinary honor, not a common respect or esteem, but that which is double, or abounding, is intended.

Secondly, Honor is reflected upon them from him who goes before them in their work, and their especial relation unto him. This is Jesus Christ, the great builder of the church. Are they pastors or shepherds? — he is the ἐπίσκοπος τῶν ψυχῶν, “the bishop of souls,” 1 Peter 2:25; and the ἀρχιποιμήν, “the chief” (or “prince”) of those shepherds, 1 Peter 5:4. And to be associated with Christ in his work, to share in office under him, will appear at length to have been honorable. The queen of Sheba counted them happy and blessed who were servants unto Solomon, and stood before him, 2 Chronicles 9:7; and what are they who stand before him who is infinitely greater and wiser than Solomon! The Lord help poor ministers to believe their relation unto the Lord Christ, and his engagement with them in their work, that they may be supported against those innumerable discouragements that they meet withal!

Thirdly, The especial nature of their work and employment is another spring of honor unto them. It lies about things holy, spiritual, mysterious, and more excellent than all the things of this world. It is their work to discover and to bring forth to light “unsearchable riches,” Ephesians 3:8; to reveal and to declare “all the counsel of God,” Acts 20:27; to prepare and make ready the bride for the Lamb; to gather in God’s revenue of glory, etc.

Fourthly, The effects of their work do also communicate honor unto them. They are such, they are all those things whereon depends all the glory of God in the concernments of the souls of men unto eternity. The ministry of the word is that alone whereby God ordinarily will treat with the souls of men, the means that he will make use of for their conviction, conversion, sanctification, and salvation. These things depend, therefore, on this work of theirs, and are effects of it. And in them will the glory of God be principally concerned unto eternity; in them will his goodness, righteousness, grace, mercy, patience, and all the other excellencies of his nature, shine forth in glory. All of them appear in his dealings with the souls of men by his word.

Fifthly, Their especial honor will one day appear in their especial reward: Daniel 12:3, המַּשְׂכִּילִים, “instructors,” “teachers,” they that make men wise, that give them understanding, “shall shine as the brightness of the firmament;” וּמַצְדּיקֵי הָרָבִּים, “and the justifiers of many,” those that make them righteous ministerially, by revealing unto them the knowledge and righteousness of Christ, whereby they are justified, Isaiah 53:11, “as the stars for ever and ever.” If they have not more glory than others, yet they shall have a distinct glory of their own; for when the prince of shepherds shall be manifested, he will give unto these his shepherds ἀμαράντινον τῆς δόξης στέφανον, 1 Peter 5:4, — such a peculiar crown as great triumphant conquerors were wont to be crowned withal.

Only it must be observed, that there is nothing of all this spoken merely with respect unto being employed one way or other, really or in pretense, in this house of God, but only unto a faithfulness in the discharge of the trust committed unto them who are so employed. Moses was worthy of honor, not because he was employed, but because he was “faithful” in his trust and employment. The twelve spies that were sent into Canaan, to search the land, were all equally commissionated and employed; but two of them only were esteemed worthy of honor, the rest died in their sin, as not faithfully discharging their trust, but bringing up an evil report on the land of promise, — as many do on the house of God, by one means or other, who are employed in the service of it. And these are so far from being worthy of honor, that they deserve nothing but reproach, contempt, and shame; for as God says in this matter, “He that honoreth me, I will honor;” so he adds, “and he that despiseth me shall be lightly esteemed.” Such persons are rejected of God from any acceptance in their office, Hosea 4:6; and as unsavory salt unto the house itself, are to be cast out on the dunghill, Matthew 5:13. They are servants whom, when their Lord comes, he will tear in pieces, and give them their portion with hypocrites, Matthew 24:50-51. Persons, therefore, who undertake to be builders in the house of God, who have received no skill or ability from the master- builder, or are negligent in their work, or corrupt it, or daub with untempered mortar, or are any way unfaithful, whatever double or treble advantage they may obtain from men in this world, they shall have nothing but shame and confusion of face from God in that which is to come.

Let, then, those who are indeed faithful in this work be satisfied with the work itself. It will prove in the end to have been a good revenue, a blessed inheritance. Add but that reward which the Lord Christ brings with him unto the reward of honor that is in the work itself, and it will be abundantly satisfactory. We dishonor our master, and manifest that we understand not much of our work, when we are solicitous about any other recompence.

And this also will serve to strengthen such persons in all the oppositions they meet withal, and all the discouragements they are encompassed with in the discharge of their duty. It is enough to give them a holy contempt and scorn of the worst that can befall them. And this also may teach others their duty towards them; which for the most part they are unwilling to hear, and more unwilling to practice.

2. Let us now return to consider what is positively affirmed in this assertion, with the proof of it. “This man,” ου῏τος, a demonstrative pronoun, denoting the person treated of. It is rendered “this man,” but it respects him not merely as man, but directs to his person, God and man, as he is expressly called God in the next verse, as we shall show.

“Was counted worthy of more glory,” — much more glory. δόξης πλείονος παρὰ ΄ωυσῆν. See the explication of the words. Speaking of the ministry of Christ and of Moses, 2 Corinthians 3:10, he saith, “For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth.” So doth the manner of the expression here used intimate the glory of Christ to be so far above the glory of Moses that in comparison thereof it might even seem to be “no glory.”

“Accounted worthy,” — more honored, had more glory from God, and in the church was more glorious.

And this glory, although it did attend the person of Christ, yet it is not that which is due unto him upon the account of his person (as afterwards shall be more fully declared), but that which belongs to him in his office, the office which he discharged towards the church (wherein alone he is to be compared with Moses, for in his person he was before exalted above all); which yet is such as none could discharge but he whose person was so excellent, as he declares, 2 Corinthians 3:4. This the apostle positively asserts, and then proceeds to the proof of it in the next words. His way of proof is, as I observed, syllogistical, wherein the proposition is expressed, “That he who builds a house is of more honor than the house built.” The assumption is supposed and included, “But Christ built the house; Moses was only a part of it.” The force of which argument will appear in our opening of the words.

The glory of Christ intended the apostle sets forth under the metaphorical terms of a house, its building, and builder. The occasion of this metaphor he takes (as was said) from the foregoing testimony, wherein it is affirmed that “Moses was faithful in the house of God.” A house is either natural, — that is, a family or a household, the children of one parent, that is built by them (as בֵּן, “a son,” is from בַָּנָה, “to build;” so Ruth 4:11, “The LORD make the woman that is come into thy house like Rachel and like Leah, שְׁתֵּיהֶם אֶתאּבֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲשֶר בָּנוּ,” — “which two built” (“childed”) “the house of Israel”); or artificial, — a building by men for a habitation, as every such house is built by some. And in an allusion thereunto, there is a house that is moral and spiritual, or a mystical habitation, namely, for God himself. Such is the church of God said to be, Ephesians 2:20-22, 1 Timothy 3:15, 2 Timothy 2:20, 1 Peter 2:5; partly by a general allusion unto any house for habitation, partly with particular respect to the temple, that was called the “house of God” under the old testament. The metaphor used by the apostle in this place respects an artificial house, and the things spoken do primarily belong thereunto. The application that he makes is unto a spiritual house, — the house of God wherein he will dwell; and thereunto also do the things that are spoken properly appertain. Herein, then, lies the design and force of the apostle’s discourse; the church of God, with all the ordinances of worship in it, is a house, the house of God, as appears in the foregoing testimony. Now, as to honor and glory, this is the condition of a house, that he who builds it is much more honorable than the house itself. But this house of God was built by Jesus Christ, whereas Moses was only a part of the house itself, and so no way to be compared in honor and glory with him that built it.

Both parts of this discourse are obnoxious to some difficulty, the removal whereof will further clear up the sense of the words and meaning of the Holy Ghost.

First, then, ‘It doth not appear that the proposition laid down by the apostle is universally true in all cases, namely, that he who builds the house is always more honorable than the house, which yet is the foundation of the apostle’s inference in this verse; for Solomon built the temple, yet the temple was far more glorious than Solomon. I do not speak in respect of their essence and being, — for so an intellectual, rational creature is to be preferred above any artificial building whatever, — but in respect of their use in the church of God; and so the temple far excelled Solomon, its builder.’

I answer, This may so fall out where one builds a house by the authority of another, and for his use, so that it is not his own house when it is built. But when one builds a house by his own authority, for his own use, whereby it becomes his own house, and wholly at his own disposal, then he is always more honorable than the house itself. And so is it in this matter. Solomon indeed built the temple, but upon the command and authority of God; he built it as a servant; it was never his in possession, or for his use, to dwell in or dispose of. On all accounts it was another’s. It was the house of God, built by his command, for himself to dwell in. It is no wonder, then, if it were more honorable than Solomon. But things are quite otherwise in the building intended. Christ built his house by his own authority, for his own use, for himself to dwell in. And in such cases the proposition is universally true. And this appears so clearly from the nature of the thing itself that it needs no further confirmation.

Secondly, ‘For the proof of the apostle’s intention, it is supposed in the assumption that Moses was not the builder of the house of God, but only a part of it; for without that supposition, the assertion of Christ’s being preferred above him as the builder is not confirmed. But the contrary hereunto seems to be true, namely, that Moses was a principal builder of the house of God, at least of the house under the old testament. Paul, upon the account of his preaching the gospel, fears not to term himself “a wise master-builder,” 1 Corinthians 3:10; and shall not at least the same honor be allowed unto Moses? for what was wanting to render him a builder? There were two principal parts of that house of God wherein his ministry was used ; — first, the place and seat of the worship of God, or the tabernacle, with all its glorious utensils and appurtenances; secondly, the ordinances and institutions of worship to be celebrated therein. Of these two that house of God seemed to consist; and they are often so called. And was not Moses the principal builder of both? For the tabernacle and the furniture of it, he received its pattern from God, and gave direction for its building unto the utmost pins, like a wise master-builder. And, secondly, for the ordinances and institutions of worship, they were wholly of his appointment. He received them, indeed, by revelation from God, and so God spake in him, as he did afterwards in the Son, Hebrews 1:1; but he prescribed them unto the church, on which account they are called “The law of Moses.” So that he seems not to have been a part of the house, but plainly the builder of it.

Ans. To remove this difficulty, we must consider both what house it is that the apostle intends, and also what manner of building of it, in the application of his metaphor.

First, For the house of God in this place, the apostle doth not intend by it the house of this or that particular age, under this or that form or administration of worship, but the house of God in all ages and places, from the foundation of the world unto the end thereof: for as this is evident from what he insists on in the next verse in confirmation hereof, namely, that “he that built all things is God, so it was not sufficient unto the purpose of the apostle to declare that Christ was a builder, and Moses the part of a house, unless he manifested he was so; that is, a part of the house that Christ built. Now, of this house Moses unquestionably was not the builder, but only a part of it, and employed in the ministry of it in one age or season alone.

Secondly, The building of the house, as to the manner of it, is either ministerial or autocratorical. In the first way, every one who labors by God’s appointment, in the dispensation of the word or otherwise, for the edification of the church, is a builder, a ministerial builder; and those who are employed in that work in an especial and eminent manner, as the apostles were, may be said to be master-builders. And so was Moses in the house of God. But it is a building in the other way and manner that is intended by the apostle, a building with supreme power, and for the builder’s own use.

Having cleared and vindicated the argument of the apostle in this third verse, our next work is to explain and confirm the severals of his assertion, partly expressed, and partly included therein. And they are these: —

1. That Christ built the church, or the house of God.

2. That he was worthy of glory and honor on that account, and had them accordingly.

3. That this his glory and honor was incomparably greater than that of Moses.

1. Unto the building of the house of God, three things are required: —

First, The giving out the design, platform, and pattern of it, in its laws, ordinances, and institutions, that it may answer the end whereunto it is designed. This is the תּבְנִית, the τύπος or ἐκτύπωμα, the “effigiation” or “delineation” of the house.

Secondly, The preparing and fitting of the materials of it, and the compacting of them together, that they may grow up unto a house, a holy temple, a habitation for God; and this is properly הבִּנְיָן, or οἰκοδομή, the “building of the house.”

Thirdly, The solemn entrance of the presence of God into it, for its appropriation, dedication, and sanctification unto God, חֲנֻכָה. These three things concurred in both the old typical houses, the tabernacle of Moses and the temple of Solomon.

The first thing was, that the pattern was prepared and showed unto Moses in the mount: Exodus 25:8-9, “Make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. According to all that I shew thee, the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make its” And Exodus 25:40, “Look that thou make them after the pattern, which thou wast caused to see in the mount.” God had caused Moses to see תּבְנִית, “a similitude,” a “representation” of the house which he would have built, and also the things that belonged thereunto. This our apostle calls τύπος, Hebrews 8:5, “an express image” of it; which contained not only the material fabric, but also the laws, ordinances, and institutions of the worship of God belonging thereunto, for all these did God show and declare unto Moses in the mount, as is expressed in the story. Secondly, Upon this Moses prepared all the materials fit for that fabric by the free- will offerings of the people; and, by the skill of Bezaleel and Aholiab, compacted, fitted, and reared up a house, a tabernacle, or a sanctuary. See Exodus 35-40. Thirdly, The glorious presence of the Lord entered into the tabernacle so erected, and God dwelt there: Exodus 40:34,

“Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.”

God came, and in a wonderful manner took possession of this his house. So it was also in the preparation and building of the temple: —

First, The pattern of it, of the whole fabric, and all the orders, ordinances, and worship of it, was given and showed unto David, who delivered it unto Solomon, his son. So he concludes the account that he gave of all the particular concernments of these things: 1 Chronicles 28:19,

“All this, said David, the LORD made me understand in writing by his hand upon me, even all the works of this pattern.”

Secondly, Solomon prepared materials in abundance, and by the skill of Hiram framed them into a house, and all the holy utensils of it, as is at large expressed in the story.

Thirdly, The temple being erected, the glorious presence of God entered there-into, to appropriate, dedicate, and sanctify it unto God: 1 Kings 8:10-11,

“And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD.”

It is evident, then, that these three things are required to the building of the house of God, whereof these material fabrics were a type and representation. And all these were perfectly effected by Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have said before, that it is not the house or church of this or that age, place, or generation, that is intended in this expression, but the church of God in all ages and places from first to last, I confess the principal instance of this work is in the church of the new testament, whose foundation in himself and erection on himself he did so expressly and particularly undertake. “On this rock,” saith he, “I will build my church,”

Matthew 16:18; — the stable rock of faith in himself as the eternal Son of God, and as designed to the great work of God in glorifying himself among sinners. This work of building the house of God was always, from the beginning, performed by himself. The first thing required unto it may be considered two ways: —

First, as to the delineation or forming of this house in his own eternal mind, as the Son and Wisdom of the Father. He was in the eternal counsels of the Father about the providing and framing of this habitation for himself. God from all eternity had laid the plot and design of this great fabric and all the concernments of it in the idea of his own mind. And there it was hid, even from all the angels in heaven, until its actual rearing, until the event, Ephesians 3:9-11. This design and purpose of his “he purposed in Christ Jesus;” — that is, this counsel of God, even of Father and Son, Proverbs 8:31-32, was to be accomplished in and by him. And this glorious pattern he had in his mind in all ages, and brought with him into the world when he came to put the last hand unto it. This answered the תַּבְנִית or idea represented to Moses in the mount. He expressed this conception of his mind, when he gave out laws, rules, orders, ordinances, institutions of worship, the whole pattern of the house, as it was in divers manners and at sundry seasons to be erected. I have in the Prolegomena unto the first part of these discourses abundantly manifested that it was the Son who, from the foundation of the world, immediately in his own person transacted the affairs of God with men. Thither I refer the reader. He it was that walked in the garden when Adam had sinned, and gave the first promise unto him; which proved the foundation of the house of God in after ages. He it was that was with the people in the wilderness, which gave them their laws and statutes in Horeb, and so built autocratically the house of God. And for the church of the new testament, when he immediately and visibly transacted all the affairs of the kingdom of God, it is most apparent he spake with and instructed his disciples in all things pertaining to the kingdom of God, Acts 1:3, — that is, of the house. And as God commanded Moses that he should make all things according to the pattern showed him in the mount, so Christ requires of his disciples that they should teach men to do and observe all things whatever he commanded, Matthew 28:20; which is therefore all that belongs unto the house of God.

Secondly, The second thing required unto the building of this house is the providing of materials, and the framing and compacting of them into a house for God. Now this was a great work indeed, especially considering the condition of all those persons whereof this house was to be constituted. They were dead in trespasses and sins, and the house was to be a living house, 1 Peter 2:5. They were all enemies to God, strangers from him, and under his curse; and the house was to be made up of the friends of God, and such as he might delight to dwell with and among. They were dead stones, and the house was to be built of the children of Abraham. This, then, was a great and glorious work, and which none could perform but he that was unspeakably more honorable than Moses or all the sons of men. The particulars of this work are many and great; I shall briefly reduce them into four heads, such as were resembled and represented in the building of the tabernacle by Moses: —

First, then, Moses gathered the materials of the tabernacle by a free-will offering from among the people: Exodus 35:4-5,

“And Moses spake unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying, This is the thing which the LORD commanded, saying, Take ye from among you an offering unto the LORD: whosoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it, an offering of the LORD.” By this means, without force, or compulsion, or imposition, were the materials of the tabernacle brought in. And so also doth the Lord Christ provide for the building of the church. He doth not gather men by force or violence, or drive them together into the profession of the truth with the sword, as Mohammed and the Pope do to their idols; but he invites none, receives none, admits of none, but those that willingly offer themselves. Such as come unto him, and give up themselves to the Lord, and to the officers of his house, by the will of God, he admits, and no other, 2 Corinthians 8:5; Romans 12:1. And herein he puts forth the greatness of his power, in giving them this will of coming; for they have it not in nor of themselves, but he makes them “willing in the day of his power,” Psalms 110:3. And this work we could manifest to be great and glorious, might we insist on the particulars of it.

Secondly, The materials of the tabernacle being freely offered, were wisely framed and compacted together, and fashioned into a sanctuary for a habitation of the Lord. This was the work of Bezaleel and Aholiab, by art, wisdom, and skill. But the fashioning of the real spiritual house of God by Christ in all ages is a thing full of mysterious wisdom and holiness. The apostle expresseth it in sundry places; we may touch on some of them:

Ephesians 2:20-22,

“Jesus Christ himself is the chief corner-stone; in whom all the building, fitly framed together, groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”

The living stones being brought together by their own willing offering themselves to the Lord, they are by him (as the tabernacle of old) fitly framed together into a holy temple or habitation for God. How this is done, as he says in general that it is by the Spirit, so he particularly declares, Ephesians 4:15-16,

“Growing up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ; from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”

And he expresseth it again to the same purpose, Colossians 2:19. There are various allusions in the words, both unto an artificial house and unto the natural body of a man. The sum is, that in Christ, the head of this body, the lord and builder of this house, there is resident a Spirit of life, which by him is communicated to every stone of the house, which gives it life, usefulness, union unto the head or lord of the body or house, as also order and beauty in reference unto the whole; that is, being all alike united unto Christ, and acted in their places and order by one Spirit, they become one house unto God. In brief, the compacting and uniting of the materials of this house is twofold; — first, physical and living; secondly, legal or moral. The former is, as was said, by the communication of the same Spirit of life unto them all which is in Christ their head, so that they are all animated and acted by the same Spirit. The latter is their regular disposition into beautifully-ordered societies, according to the rules and laws of the gospel.

Thirdly, That the house so built and compacted might be a habitation unto God, it was necessary that an atonement should be made for it by sacrifice, and that it should be purified and sanctified with the blood thereof. This our apostle declares, Hebrews 9:19-21 :

“For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book and all the people, saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. Moreover, he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry.”

This also was Christ to do in the building of his church, as the apostle in the same place declares. He was to make atonement for it by the sacrifice of himself, and to sprinkle it wholly with his own blood, that both an atonement might be made for it, and likewise that it might be cleansed, sanctified, and dedicated unto God; which part of his work in building his house the Scripture most largely insists upon.

Fourthly, The tabernacle being erected, and sprinkled with blood, it was also with all its utensils to be anointed with the holy oil; and it was so accordingly, Exodus 40:9-10.

“Thou shalt,” saith God, “take the anointing oil, and anoint the tabernacle, and all that is therein, and shalt hallow it, and all the vessels thereof: and it shall be holy. And thou shalt anoint the altar of the burnt-offering, and all his vessels, and sanctify the altar: and it shall be an altar most holy.”

That this unction was a type of the Holy Ghost is known; he is the “oil of gladness” wherewith Christ himself and all his were to be anointed. This, therefore, the Lord Christ in an especial manner takes care for in the building of his house, namely, to have it anointed by the Holy Ghost. This he promised unto them, John 16:7; and this he performeth accordingly, 1 John 2:27. This unction, with all the blessed and glorious effects of it, doth the Lord Christ grant unto this whole house of his. And these are the heads of some of the principal actings of Christ in the building of the house of God; all which are done by him effectually, and by him alone.

Lastly, Unto the completing of this house for a habitation to the Lord, the glorious entrance of his presence into it was required. And this also is accomplished by him, according to his promise that he will be with us, among us, and dwell in us by his Spirit, unto the end of the world, Matthew 28:20, 1 Corinthians 3:16, 2 Corinthians 6:16, Ephesians 2:19-22.

And so we have briefly demonstrated the first thing expressed in the words, namely, that Christ was the builder of the house, whereof Moses was a part and a member only.

2. The second thing asserted is, that the Lord Christ is worthy of all glory and honor, upon the account of his thus building his church, the house of God.

This also is directly taught by the apostle, and included in the comparison that he makes of him with Moses, and his preference above him. He is worthy of much more glory and honor than Moses. What glory it is that the apostle intends we must first inquire; and then show both that he is worthy of it and also hath it; which things comprise what remains of the apostle’s intention in this first argument.

First, The Lord Christ hath an essential glory, the same with that of the Father. This he had from eternity, antecedent unto his whole undertaking of building the house of God. He and his Father are ONE, John 10:30. Before his humiliation

“he was in the form of God, and counted it not robbery to be equal with God,” Philippians 2:6, —

equal in dignity and glory, because of the same nature with him, which is the fountain of all divine glory and honor. This is “the glory which he had with the Father before the world was;” which being clouded for a season, in his taking on him “the form of a servant,” Philippians 2:7, he desires the manifestation of again, upon the accomplishment of his work in this world, John 17:5, Romans 1:3-4. But this is not the glory intended; for the reason and cause of it is not his building the house of God, but his divine nature, from which it is absolutely inseparable. Had this house never been built, yet he would have been thus glorious to eternity.

Secondly, There is in Christ the glory and honor of the human nature, as glorified after its obedience and suffering. This nature was rendered glorious by virtue of its union with the Son of God from his incarnation, as it is expressed by the angel, Luke 1:35 :

“The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”

But it received an inconceivable addition of glory, when, being made spiritual and heavenly, and every way glorified beyond what the understanding of man can reach unto (for whereas “our vile bodies shall be made like unto his glorious body,” or we shall be made like unto him, “it doth not appear,” is not conceivable, “what we shall be,” 1 John 3:2), it was received triumphantly into heaven, Acts 1:9, there to continue “until the times of the restitution of all things,” Acts 3:21. Neither is this, as absolutely considered, the glory and honor here intended; for this glory is not merely that which he hath in himself, but that which is due to him from and given to him by the church.

Thirdly, There is the honor and glory which he hath received in his exaltation as the head of the church. What this glory is, and wherein it doth consist, or what are the effects of his exaltation, have been at large declared on Acts 1:2-3, etc. See Matthew 28:18, Ephesians 1:20-22, Colossians 1:15-18. In this last place, both the nature and reason and consequents of it are expressed. The nature of it is in this, that he is “the first-born of every creature,” Colossians 1:15, or lord and heir of the whole creation of God; “the head of the body,” with an absolute pre- eminence in all things, Colossians 1:18. And the reason which makes this exaltation reasonable is taken from the dignity of his person absolutely considered, and the infiniteness of his power: for, in his person he is “the image of the invisible God,” Colossians 1:15, or “the express image” of the Father, as Hebrews 1:3; and as to his power, “by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth,” Colossians 1:16, as is at large declared, John 1:1-3. This made it equal, that having fulfilled the work assigned unto him, mentioned John 1:20-22, he should enjoy all the glory and honor insisted on; that is, that after he had built the house of God, he was thus exalted.

What this glory or honor of Christ is, with respect unto the church or the house built by him, shall be briefly declared, supposing, as was said before, what hath been already taught concerning it on the first chapter. And it may be considered, —

First, In respect of the collation of it upon him. His glory as the eternal Son of God was and is personal and natural unto him, even as it is unto the Father; for each person being possessed “in solidum” of the same nature, each of them being God by nature, and the same God, they have the same glory. But this glory of Christ, as the builder of the church, as mediator, is consequent unto, and bestowed upon him by the will and actual donation of the Father. By him was he designed unto his work, and from him doth he receive his glory. He “raised him from the dead, and gave him glory,”

1 Peter 1:21 : that is, not only rendered him glorious by his resurrection, as he was “declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead,” as Romans 1:4, — that is, made known by that miraculous, divine operation to be the true, real Son of God, and his divine nature thereby manifested; nor only because he was afterwards “received up into glory,” 1 Timothy 3:16, — that is, gloriously and triumphantly in his human nature received into heaven; but because it was his will that glory and honor should be yielded, ascribed, and paid unto him. For so he speaks concerning the whole intellectual creation: as first, for angels, he saith, “Let all the angels of God worship him,” Hebrews 1:6; and for men, “The Father hath committed all judgment unto the Son, that all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father,” John 5:22-23. So that this glory and honor is conferred upon the Lord Christ as the builder of the church, by the grant, donation, and will of the Father.

Secondly, As to the nature of this glory, it consists in this, that he is the object of all divine religious worship, and the principal author of all the laws thereof whereby it is outwardly and solemnly celebrated or performed. Hence there is a twofold duty incumbent on the church in reference to him who is the builder of it, our mediator, Jesus Christ: —

1. That they serve him, trust him, believe in him, obey him with all religious subjection of soul and conscience. Hence saith he, “Ye believe in God, believe also in me,” John 14:1; — ‘Ye believe in God the Father who sent me, believe also in me who am sent, with the same divine faith and confidence.’Commands and examples unto the same purpose are multiplied in the Scripture, as I have elsewhere shown at large. Jesus Christ, our mediator, God and man, the builder of the church, is the proper object of our religious faith, love, and fear, even as the Father is. In him do we believe, on his name do we ca!l, to him do we subject and commit our souls unto eternity. This glory is due unto him because he built the church,

2. The observation of all his commands, laws, and institutions, as the great sovereign Lord over our souls and consciences in all things; for “to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living,” Romans 14:9 ; — supreme Lord over us whilst alive, requiring obedience to all his laws, as a son over his own house; and when we are dead, to raise us again and to bring us unto his judgment-seat, as Romans 14:10-11. And this obedience he gives in command to all his disciples, Matthew 28:20. And in these things consists that peculiar glory which Christ as this builder of the house hath, or is endowed withal

Thirdly, Two things may be considered concerning this glory: —

1. What it is that is the formal reason of it, — that which renders him a meet object of the church’s worship, and the church’s worship to be truly divine or religious.

2. What is the principal motive prevailing with us to give him this glory and honor.

For the First, it is no other but the divine nature. The natural and essential excellencies of the Deity are the formal reason and proper object of all divine worship. We worship the Lord Christ, who is God and man. He is so in one person; and his person who is God and man is the object of that worship. But the formal reason and object of it is the divine nature in that person. Give me leave to say, God himself could not command the Lord Christ to be worshipped with divine religious adoration were he not God by nature, for the thing itself implieth a contradiction. Religious worship is nothing but an assignation of that honor which is due to divine excellencies; namely, to trust, believe, fear, obey, love, and submit unto infinite holiness, goodness, righteousness, power, in the first cause, last end, and sovereign Lord of all. Now, to assign glory proper to divine excellencies, and which receiveth its nature from its object, where divine excellencies are not, is openly contradictory. Besides, God hath said, “I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another,”

Isaiah 42:8. He that hath not the name of God, (that is, his nature,) shall not, nor can have this glory, which is to be the object of the worship mentioned. And there are scarcely more gross idolaters in the world than those who profess to worship Christ and to believe in him, in a word, to give him all the glory that is due to God, and yet deny him so to be.

Now, in our worship of Christ, which is our assignation of glory unto him, he is considered two ways: —

(1.) Absolutely, as he is “over all, God blessed for ever,” Romans 9:5.

(2.) As he is the mediator between the Father and us.

(1.) In the first respect he is the proper and ultimate object of our worship. We believe in him, pray unto him; as Stephen offered his dying prayer unto him in particular. They stoned Stephen, praying or invocating in these words, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit,” Acts 7:59. So are we baptized in his name, and thereby initiated into his service, as our Lord and our God, as Thomas expresseth his confession of him, John 20:28. So may we pray unto him directly and distinctly, making his person the ultimate object of our faith, trust, and subjection of soul therein. See Ephesians 5:23-25; 2 Corinthians 5:15; Titus 2:14; Romans 14:9; Romans 14:18.

(2.) Consider him in the latter way, as the mediator between the Father and us; so he is the immediate but not the ultimate object of our worship. In this sense, “through him we do believe in God, who raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory, that our faith and hope might be in God,”

1 Peter 1:21. He is the means of our faith and hope. By him “we have access by one Spirit unto the Father,” Ephesians 2:18. And according to his command, we ask of God in his name, and for his sake, John 16:23-24; John 16:26. And in this sense, in all our worship, internal and external, in our faith, confidence, obedience, and supplications, the Father is considered as the ultimate object of our worship, and the Lord Christ the Son as he who hath procured acceptance for us, who pleads our cause, manageth our affairs, justifies our persons, and prevails for grace and mercy. And this is the most ordinary and standing way of faith in the worship of God. We address ourselves to the Father by Christ the Son as mediator, considering him as vested with his offices in and over the house of God. This the apostle excellently expresseth, Ephesians 3:14-19. However, it is free for us to address our petitions directly unto Christ as he is God, equal with the Father.

And we may see here the difference that is between our worship of Christ the mediator, and the Papists’worship of their saints and angels. They go first to their saints, to the blessed Virgin especially. To her they pray; — what to do? To give them grace, mercy, pardon of sins, and salvation. This, indeed, many of them have done, and do, and that in a horrible, idolatrous, blasphemous manner. But this they commonly plead, that they only pray to saints that they would pray and intercede with God for them, granting that they may be mediators of intercession, though not of oblation. Well, then, their praying unto saints is one distinct act of worship, whereof the saints are the only object; which, they being mere creatures, is open and express idolatry. But now in our worship of God by Christ, it is the same worship whereby we worship the Father and the Son, the Father in and through the Son; with the same actings of faith and confidence, and by the same invocation, — the one as the object ultimately of our intercession, the other as the mediator of our acceptance. But it will be said, May we not then pray to Christ to pray to the Father for us, which would be a distinct act of religious worship? I answer, —

(1.) We have no precedent in Scripture nor warrant for any such address;

(2.) It seems not agreeable to the analogy of faith that we should pray unto Christ to discharge his own office faithfully.

But this we may do, we may pray unto him distinctly for grace, mercy, pardon, because he is God; and we may pray unto the Father by him, as he is our mediator: which two modes of divine worship are sufficiently revealed in the Scripture.

Secondly, Having considered the formal reason of the glory insisted on, we are nextly to inquire after the great motive unto our giving him this glory, that makes him worthy of it, and obligeth us in especial duty to give it unto him. Christ our mediator, God manifested in the flesh, God and man, whole Christ, his divine and human nature in one person, is the object of our religious adoration and worship; and it is just, righteous, equal, that we should constantly and continually worship him, because he hath built the house of God, because of his work of mediation.

As it is in the first command, so it is in this matter,

“I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” Exodus 20:2-3

Declaring himself to be the Lord God, he proposeth the formal reason of all religious worship, and that which makes it indispensably necessary. But yet, to stir the people up unto the actual performance of it, he adds that great motive in what he had done for them; — he had brought them out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Had he not done so, all worship and honor divine was due unto him; but having done so, it is a strong obligation to bind them to diligence in its observance. So I say it is in this matter. Christ is to be worshipped because he is God, but the great motive hereunto is what he hath done for us in the work of redemption. And unto all that we have said in this matter we have the joint testimony of all the saints and angels of God: Revelation 5:8-13,

“And when he had taken the book, the four living creatures and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the living creatures, and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever.” The whole of what we have asserted is here confirmed: for, —

(1.) The Lamb here is Jesus Christ the Mediator, the Lamb of God that took away the sins of the world.

(2.) The worship and honor ascribed unto him is holy, sacred, and religious, and that from the whole creation.

(3.) It is but one and the same worship that is given unto the Lamb and to him that sits upon the throne, even the Father.

(4.) The reason hereof and great motive unto it, whence it is said that he is worthy of it, — that is, it is our continual duty to perform it unto him, — is because of the great things he hath done for us in our redemption and salvation; that is, his building of the house of God.

From what hath been spoken, it is evident in what sense we worship “the man Christ Jesus” with divine honor and worship, even as his human nature, by virtue of personal union, subsisteth in the person of the Son of God, which person is the proper object of our worship.

To close this matter, here lies a great difference between Christ and Moses, that whereas the work of Moses brought all the honor and glory he had unto his person, and which yet was but an inferior work, the work of a servant or ministerial builder, the person of Christ brought glory and honor unto his work, although it was very excellent and glorious; for he condescended and humbled himself unto it, Philippians 2:6-8. But yet the work being done, is a cause of giving new honor and glory unto his person.

It remains only that I briefly give the reasons why this building of the house doth render the Lord Christ so worthy of glory and honor. It doth so, —

First, Because the work itself was great and glorious. Great works make the authors of them famous and honorable. Hence have been the endeavors of men to eternize their names, to make themselves famous and renowned by their works and buildings. This was one end of that stupendous enterprise of the children of men in the building of Babel; they would build a tower to make themselves a name, Genesis 11:4, — to get them renown and glory. And they have been imitated by their posterity, who in all ages have praised their saying. So Nebuchadnezzar testifieth concerning himself: Daniel 4:30, “Is not this,” saith he, “great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom, by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty?” But alas, what poor perishing heaps have been the products of their endeavors! they have all long ago been made a spoil unto time and confusion. When Solomon went about to build a material typical house for God, he tells Hiram, the king of Tyre, in his message unto him, that the house which he built was very great; for, saith he, “Great is our God above all gods,” 2 Chronicles 2:5-6. But he adds moreover, “But who is able to build him an house, seeing the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain him? who am I then, that I should build him an house, save only to burn sacrifice before him;” — ‘The use of this house is, not for God to dwell in, but for us to worship him in. Do not conceive that I am building a temple with such thoughts and apprehensions as the nations build theirs unto their false deities, namely, to confine them to a place and keep them in. The immensity of the nature of our God will admit of no such thing. It is only a place for his service that I intend.’But now this hath Christ done; he hath built a house for God to dwell in for ever. And this, on many accounts, was a greater work than that of the creation of all things out of nothing. But if from that ancient work of creation was to arise all the glory of God according to the law of nature, how excellent is this honor and glory which ariseth to Jesus Christ, and to God by him, from this new creation, from his forming and creating “new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness!”

Secondly, It is glorious on all accounts of glory. Glorious in itself: who can set forth, who can express the glory and beauty, the order of this work? The tabernacle, with the temple of old, and all their furniture, were exceeding glorious; but yet they and their worship had no glory in comparison of the more excellent glory of this spiritual house, 2 Corinthians 3:10.

It is glorious in its foundation; which is Christ himself.

“Other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ,” 1 Corinthians 3:11.

This is the rock on which this house is built, Matthew 16:18. He is laid

“in Zion for a foundation, a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation,” Isaiah 28:16, —

so glorious that when he is brought forth, those concerned in the building shout with crying, “Grace, grace unto it,” Zechariah 4:7. And it is glorious in its superstruction; it is built up of living stones, 1 Peter 2:4; which also are precious and elect, cemented among themselves and wrought into beauty and order by the Spirit of God. It is also glorious in respect of its end; it is built unto the glory of God. This house is the foundation of eternal glory, as being that upon the account whereof God will for ever be glorified. It comes into the place of the whole creation at first, and doubles the revenue of glory unto God. But as unto these things more must be spoken afterwards.

Our duty is to bear in mind this honor and glory of Christ, as that whereunto he is exalted, that whereof he is every way worthy. And herein our concernment and honor doth lie. For if any one member of the mystical body being honored, all the members rejoice with it, 1 Corinthians 12:26, how much more have all the members cause to rejoice in this unspeakable honor and glory of their head, whence all their honor in particular doth flow!

3. The honor and glory of all that ever were employed, or ever shall so be, in the work and service of the house of God, jointly and severally considered, is inferior, subordinate, and subservient to the glory and honor of Jesus Christ, the chief builder of the house. He is worthy of more honor than they all. He is the Son, they are servants. He is over the house, they are in it, and parts of it. They are shepherds, but the sheep and the lambs are his. He is the ἀρχιποιμήν, the chief or prince of shepherds; all their honor is from him, and if it be not returned unto him, it is utterly lost.

Hebrews 3:4. — “ For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God.”

In this verse the apostle confirms and illustrates what he had before asserted and proved. Hereunto two things were necessary; for, first, whereas his whole discourse had reference unto the analogy that is between a house and its builder on the one hand, and Christ with his church on the other, — seeing it lies in this, that as the builder is worthy of more honor than the house built by him, so is Christ worthy of more than the whole church or house of God which was built by him, — it was therefore necessary to show that his argument had a real foundation in the things from which the parity of reason insisted on by him did arise. This he doth in the first words, “Every house is builded by some.” Every house whatever hath its builder, between whom and the house there is that respect that he is more honorable than it. This, therefore, holds equally in an artificial house and in an analogical. The respect mentioned is alike in both.

Secondly, If that building of the house which alone would make good the apostle’s inference and intention (namely, that Christ was more honorable than Moses, because he built the house, Moses was only a part of it), were such as we have described, the building of the church in all ages, who could perform it? to whom must this work belong? Why, saith he, “He who built all things is God.”

Two things are here to be inquired into; —

First, What is intended by the “all things” here mentioned;

Secondly, Who is intended by “God,” who is said to build them all

For the First, τὰ πάντα, “all things,” is put for ταῦτα πάντα, “all these things,” — all the things treated about; which kind of expression is frequent in the Scripture. And therefore Beza well renders the words “haec omnia,” “all these things,” — the whole house, and all the persons that belong unto it, or the parts of it in all ages. And thus is τὰ πάντα constantly restrained to the subject-matter treated of. Besides, the word κατασκευάσας, here used by the apostle, whereby he expressed before the building of the house, plainly declares that it is the same kind of building that he yet treats of, and not the absolute creation of all things, which is nowhere expressed by that word. And this is sufficient to evince what we plead for. This word is nowhere used in the Scripture to express the creation of all things, neither doth it signify to create, but to “prepare” and to “build.” And it is often used in this business of preparing the church or the ways of the worship of God. See Matthew 11:10; Luke 1:17; Luke 7:27; Hebrews 9:2; Hebrews 9:6. So that there can be no pretense of applying it to the creation of the world in this place. Again, the making of all things, or the first creation, doth not belong unto his purpose; but the mention of it would disturb the series of his discourse, and render it equivocal. There is neither reason for it in his design, nor place for it in his discourse, nor any thing in it to his purpose.

Secondly, Who is here intended by the name “God.” The words may be so understood as to signify either that God made or built all these things, or, that he who made and built all these things is God; the first sense making God the subject, the latter the predicate of the proposition. But as to our purpose they amount unto the same; for if he who made them is God, his making of them declares him so to be. And it is the Lord Christ who is intended in this expression; for, —

First, If God absolutely, or God the Father, be intended, then by “the building of all things” the creation of the world is designed; so they all grant who are of that opinion: but that this is not so we have already demonstrated from the words themselves.

Secondly, The introduction of God absolutely, and his building of all things, in this place, is no way subservient unto the purpose of the apostle; for what light or evidence doth this contribute unto his principal assertion, namely, that the Lord Christ was more honorable than Moses, and that upon the account of his building the house of God, the confirmation whereof he doth in these words expressly design.

Thirdly, It is contrary to his purpose; for whereas he doth not prove the Lord Christ to be deservedly preferred above Moses, unless he manifest that by his own power he built the house of God in such a manner as Moses was not employed in, according to this interpretation of the words, he here assigns the principal building of the house unto another, even the Father, and so overthrows what he had before asserted.

This, then, is that which by these words the apostle intends to declare, namely, the ground and reason whence it is that the house was or could be in that glorious manner built by Christ, even because he is God, and so able to effect it; and by this effect of his power he is manifested so to be.

Hebrews 3:5-6. — “ And Moses verily [was] faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were [after] to be spoken; but Christ [was faithful] as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.”

The apostle in these words proceedeth unto another argument to the same purpose with the former, consisting in a comparison between Christ and Moses in reference unto their relation to the house of God when built. In the building they were both faithful, Christ as the chief builder, Moses as a principal part of the house, ministerially also employed in the building of it. The house being built, they are both faithful towards it in their several relations unto it; — Moses as a servant in the house of God; Christ as a Son over his own house; his own because he built it.

The Vulgar Latin reads also in the latter place, “in the house,” ἐν τῷ οἴκῳ for ἐπὶ τὸν οι῏κον, “over the house;” but corruptly, as was observed. The agreement of the original copies and the series of the apostle’s discourse require, “over the house:” “a Son over the house.”

Some by αὐτοῦ would have God the Father to be intended, “over his house,” “the house of God.” But the other sense, “his own house,” is evidently intended. Having built the house, and being the Son or lord over it, it becomes his own house.

As to Moses, there are in the words, —

1. His relation to the house of God, which was that of a “servant;”

2. The end of his ministry, “For a testimony of those things which were [after] to be spoken.”

In reference unto the Lord Christ, —

1. His relation to the house is asserted to be that of “a son,” or lord “over the house.”

2. An implication of his faithfulness in that relation, “But Christ as a son;” that is, ‘was faithful as a son.’

3. A declaration of the state and condition of that house over which as a son he presides, with an application of the things spoken unto the faith and obedience of the Hebrews, “Whose house are we, if we hold fast,” etc.

The argument of the apostle in these words is obvious: ‘The son faithful over his own house is more glorious and honorable than a servant that is faithful in the house of his lord and master; but Christ was thus a son over the house, Moses only a servant in it.’

There is one difficulty in the terms of this argument, which must be removed before we enter upon the explication of the words in particular; and this lies in the opposition that is here made between a son and a servant, on which the stress of it doth lie. For Moses was not so a servant but that he was also a child, a son of God; and the Lord Christ was not so a son but that he was also the servant of the Father in his work, and is in the Scripture often so called, and accordingly he constantly professed that as he was sent by the Father, so he came to do his will and not his own.

Ans. First, The comparison here made is not between the persons of Christ and Moses absolutely, but with respect unto their relation unto the church or house of God in their offices. Moses was indeed a son of God by adoption (for “the adoption” belonged unto believers under the old testament, Romans 9:4); he was so in his own person; but he was not a son in reference unto the house, but a servant by his office, and no more. And the Lord Christ, who was the Son of God upon a more glorious account, even that of his eternal generation, is not here thence said to be a son, he is not as such here spoken of, but as one that had the rule as a son over the house.

Secondly, It is true, Christ was the servant of the Father in his work, but he was more than so also. Moses was in the house a servant, and no more. The Lord Christ was so a servant as that he was also the son, lord, and heir of all. And this, as to the equity of it, is founded originally in the dignity of his person, for he is “over all, God blessed for ever,” Romans 9:5. He was God and Lord by nature, a servant by condescension; and therefore made a son or lord by the Father’s constitution, as our apostle declares at large, Philippians 2:6-9. This, then, is the economy of this matter: being in himself God over all, he became by voluntary condescension, in the susception of human nature, the servant of the Father; and upon the doing of his will, he had the honor given him of being the son, head, and lord over the whole house. So that no scruple can hence arise against the force of the apostle’s argument.

Two things are in general contained in the words, as they report the relation of Moses to the house of God, —

1. His ministry,

2. The end of that ministry, as was observed.

1. “Moses verily was faithful as a servant in his whole house.” The office ascribed unto him is that of a servant, a servant of God and of the people; θεράπων, a “servant,” “minister,” or “officer” “in sacris,” in things belonging to religious worship. This was his place, office, dignity, and honor. And this is accompanied with a threefold amplification: —

(1.) In that he was “faithful” in his service; which wherein it consisted hath been declared.

(2.) In that he was a servant in the house of God; not in the world only, and in compliance with the works of his providence (as all things serve the will of God, and wicked men, as Cyrus and Nebuchadnezzar, are called his servants), but “in his house,” — in that service which is of nearest relation and of greatest concernment unto him. It is an honor to serve the will of God in any duty, but in those especially which concern his house and his worship therein.

(3.) In that he was not thus employed and thus faithful in this or that part of the house of God, in this or that service of it, but “in all his house” and all the concernments of it, Herein was he differenced from all others whom God used in the service of his house under the old testament. One was employed in one part of it, another in another; — one to teach or instruct it, another to reform or restore it; one to renew a neglected ordinance, another to give a new instruction: none but he was used in the service of the whole house. All things, for the use of all ages, until the time of reformation should come, were ordered and appointed by him. And these things greatly speak his honor and glory; although, as we shall see, they leave him incomparably inferior to the Lord Christ.

2. “For a testimony of those things which should be spoken after.” The end of the service and ministry of Moses is expressed in these words. It was to be εἰς μαρτυρίαν “for a testimony.” The word and ordinances of God are often called his “testimony,” that whereby he testifieth and witnesseth his will and pleasure unto the sons of men: עֵדוּת, “that which God testifieth.” Some therefore think the meaning of the words to be, that Moses in his ministry revealed the testimony of God; and that these words, “Of the things that should be spoken,” are as much as ‘In and by the things that he spake,’that God would have spoken by him, wherein his testimony did consist. But this exposition of the words is perplexed, and makes a direct coincidence between the testimony and the things spoken, whereas they are distinct in the text, the one being subservient unto the other, the testimony unto the things spoken. Others take “testimony” to be put for a witness, he that was to bear testimony; which it was the duty of Moses to be and to do. He was to be a witness unto the word of God which was given and revealed by him. And both these expositions suppose “the things spoken” to be the things spoken by Moses himself. But neither doth this seem to answer the mind of the Holy Ghost; for, —

(1.) This being testimony, refers to the whole faithfulness of Moses, which was not confined or restrained unto the things that were spoken, but extended itself unto the whole service of the house wherein he was employed, as well in the building of the tabernacle and institution of ordinances as revealing the will of God in his law.

(2.) λαληθησομένων, respects things future unto what he did in his whole ministry. This our translation rightly observes, rendering it, “The things which were to be spoken after.” And this as well the order of the words as the importance of them doth require. In his ministry he was a testimony, or by what he did in the service of the house he gave testimony. Whereunto? To the things that were afterwards to be spoken, namely, in the fullness of time, the appointed season, by the Messiah, — that is, the things of the gospel. And this, indeed, was the proper end of all that Moses did or ordered in the house of God.

This is the importance of the words, and this was the true and proper end of the whole ministry of Moses, wherein his faithfulness was tried and manifested. He ordered all things by God’s direction in the typical worship of the house, so as that it might be a pledge and testimony of what God would afterwards reveal and exhibit in the gospel: for “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth,” Romans 10:4. And it was revealed unto him, as unto the other prophets, that not unto themselves, but unto us, they did minister in the revelations they made of the things testified unto them by the Spirit of Christ, which was in them, 1 Peter 1:11-12. And whereas it is frequently said that Moses bare witness unto the Lord Christ and the gospel, he did it not so much by direct prophecies and promises of him, as by the whole constitution and ordering of the house of God and all its institutions, especially in the erection of the tabernacle and the appointment of the sacrifices annexed to it: for as the first witnessed and represented the assumption of our human nature by Christ, whereby ἐσκήνωσεν, “he tabernacled amongst us,” John 1:14, — and therefore after the tabernacle was built, God spake only from thence, Leviticus 1:1, — so did the latter that great sacrifice whereby the Lamb of God took away the sins of the world. Herein was Moses faithful. And here the apostle takes his leave of Moses, — he treats not about him any more; and therefore he gives him as it were an honorable burial. He puts this glorious epitaph on his grave, “Moses, a faithful servant of the Lord in his whole house.”

Hebrews 3:6. — “But Christ as a son over his own house.” The term “faithful” is here to be repeated, “Was faithful as a son over his own house.” Every word almost proves the pre-eminence asserted. He is a son, Moses a servant; he over the house, Moses in the house; he over his own house, Moses in the house of another.

In what sense the Lord Christ is said to be the son over his house hath been so fully declared in our exposition of the first chapter, that it need not here be insisted on. Absolute and supreme authority over all persons and things is intended in this expression. All persons belonging unto the house of God are at his disposal, and the institution of the whole worship of it is in his power alone. Which things, as was said, have been already spoken unto.

“Whose house are we.” Having confirmed his argument, the apostle returns, after his manner, to make application of it unto the Hebrews, and to improve it for the enforcement of his exhortation unto constancy and perseverance. And herein,

First, he makes an explanation of the metaphor which he had insisted on. ‘I have,’said he, ‘spoken these things of a house and its building; but it is the church, it is ourselves that I intend.’ “Whose house are we.”

Secondly, That they might know also, in particular, whom it is that he intends, he adds a further description of them, “If we hold fast our confidence and the glorying of hope unto the end.”

“Whose house are we;” that is, believers, who worship him according unto the gospel, are so. And the apostle frequently, both in exhortations and applications of arguments and threatenings, joineth himself with the professing Hebrews, for their direction and encouragement. Now, believers are the house of Christ upon a treble account: —

1. Of their persons. In them he dwells really by his Spirit. Hence are they said to be “living stones,” and on him to be built into a “holy temple,” 1 Peter 2:5. And as such doth he dwell in them, Ephesians 2:20-22, 1 Corinthians 3:16, 2 Corinthians 6:16, John 14:17.

2. Of their being compact together in church-order according to his institution, whereby they are built up, cemented, united, and become a house, like the tabernacle or temple of old, Ephesians 4:16, Colossians 2:19.

3. Of their joint worship performed in that order; wherein and whereby he also dwells among them, or is present with them unto the consummation of all things, Revelation 21:3, Matthew 28:20.

“If we hold fast our confidence and the glorying of hope firm unto the end.”

These words may have a double sense: First, to express the condition on which the truth of the former assertion doth depend: ‘We are his house, but on this condition, that we hold fast,” etc. Secondly, to express a description of the persons who are so the house of Christ, by a limitation and distinction amongst professors, showing that in the former assertion he intends only those who hold fast their confidence firm to the end.

According unto these several interpretations the words are severally employed. Those who embrace the first sense make use of them to prove a possibility of the falling away of true believers, and that totally and finally, from Christ; for, say they, without the supposition thereof, the words are superfluous and useless. Those who cleave to the latter sense suppose the words irrefragably to confirm the certain permanency in the faith of those who are truly the house of Christ, they being such alone as whose faith hath the adjuncts of permanency and stability annexed unto it. For others, whatever they may profess, they are never truly or really the house of Christ; whence it undeniably follows that all true believers do certainly persevere unto the end.

I shall not here engage into this controversy, having handled it at large elsewhere. Only, as to the first sense contended for, I shall briefly observe, — first, that the supposition urged proves not the inference intended; and, secondly, that the argument from this place is not suited unto the hypothesis of them that make use of it. For, as Paul puts himself among the number of those who are spoken of, whose faith yet none will thence contend to have been liable unto a total failure; so such conditional expressions of gospel-comminations, although they have a peculiar use and efficacy towards believers in the course of their obedience, as manifesting God’s detestation of sin, and the certain connection that there is by God’s eternal law between unbelief and punishment, yet they do not include any assertion that the persons of believers may at any time, all things considered, on the part of God as well as of themselves, actually fall under those penalties, as hath been at large elsewhere evinced. Again, this argument suits not the hypothesis that it is produced in the confirmation of; for if it be the condition of the foregoing assertion, whereon the truth of it doth depend, then are none at present the house of God, but upon a supposition of their perseverance unto the end. But their opinion requires that persons may be really this house by virtue of their present faith and obedience, although they afterwards utterly fall from both, and perish for evermore. This, then, cannot be the sense of the words according to their principles who make use of them for their ends: for they say that men may be the house of Christ although they hold not fast their confidence unto the end; which is directly to contradict the apostle, and to render his exhortation vain and useless.

The words, therefore, are a description of the persons who are the house of Christ, from a certain effect or adjunct of that faith whereby they become so to be. They are such, and only such, as “hold fast their confidence and glorying of hope firm unto the end,” whereby they are distinguished from temporary professors, who may fall away.

Two things are observable in the words; — first, what it is that the apostle requires in them that are the house of Christ, namely, “confidence” and “glorying in hope;” secondly, the manner of our retaining them, — we must hold them “fast” and “firm;” whereunto is subjoined the continuance of this duty, — it must be “unto the end.” First, for our “confidence,” most understand by it either faith itself or a fiduciary trust in God, which is an inseparable effect of it. This grace is much commended in the Scripture, and, they say, here intended by our apostle. A reliance they mean, resting and reposing our hearts upon God in Christ, for mercy, grace, and glory; this is our Christian confidence. And the “rejoicing of hope,” is the hope wherein we rejoice. Hope of eternal life, promised by God, purchased by Jesus Christ, and expected by believers, fills them with joy and rejoicing; as Romans 5:5, 1 Peter 1:8.

These things are true; but whether peculiarly intended in this place by the apostle is questionable, yea, that the words are of another importance, and require another interpretation, is manifest from them and the context. For,—

First, The word παῤῥησία, translated “confidence,” although it frequently occurs in the New Testament, yet it is never used to signify that fiduciary trust in God which is an effect of faith, and wherein some have thought the nature of it to consist; for, unless where it is used adverbially to signify “openly,” “plainly,” “notoriously,” as it doth always in the Gospel of John (see John 18:20), it constantly denotes a freedom, liberty, and constancy of spirit, in speaking or doing any thing towards God or men. See Acts 2:29; Acts 4:13; Acts 4:29; 2 Corinthians 3:12; Philippians 1:20; 1 Timothy 3:13. And we have before manifested that this is the genuine and native signification of the word.

Secondly, The “confidence” here intended doth refer unto our “hope” no less than the καύχημα, or “rejoicing,” that followeth. The words are not rightly distinguished when “confidence” is placed distinctly as one thing by itself, and “rejoicing” only is joined with “hope.” And this is evident from the construction of the words; for βεβαίαν, “firm,” agrees not immediately with ἐλπίδος, “of hope,” which is of another case, nor with

καύχημα, “rejoicing,” which is of another gender; but with παῤῥησίαν it agrees in both, and is regulated thereby, which it could not be unless

“confidence” were joined with “hope” also, “confidence of hope.”

Thirdly, Not our hope itself, but the καύχημα, “glorying,” or “rejoicing” in it and of it is intended by the apostle; and therefore no more is our faith in the former expression.

The genuine sense, then, of these words will best appear from the consideration of the state and condition of the Hebrews, and what it is that the apostle invites and encourageth them unto. This condition, as hath been frequently declared, was a condition of persecution, and danger of backsliding thereon. How, then, are men at such a season usually prevailed upon sinfully to fail and miscarry in their profession? It is not at first by parting directly and openly with faith and hope, but by failing in the fruits of them, and the duties which they require. Now, of that hope which we have concerning a blessed immortality and glory by Jesus Christ, there are two proper effects or duties, or it requires two things of us: — First, A free, bold, and open profession of that truth which our hope is built upon, and that against all dangers and oppositions; for we know that this hope will never make us ashamed, Romans 5:5. This is the παῤῥησία τῆς ἐλπίδος here mentioned ; — a confident, open, profession of our hope. This we are exhorted unto, 1 Peter 3:15,

“Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you.”

This ἐποιμασία πρὸς ἀπολογίαν, this promptitude and alacrity in apologizing, avowing, defending, pleading for the grounds of our hope, is the παῤῥησία, the “confidence,” or rather “liberty” and “boldness” of profession here intended. Secondly, An open opposing of our hope, or that which is hoped for, unto all difficulties, dangers, and persecutions, with a holy boasting, glorying, or rejoicing in our lot and portion, because the foundation of our hope is sure, and the things we hope for are precious and excellent, and that to the contempt of every thing that riseth against them, is also required of us. This is the καυχημα τῆς ἐλπίδος intended. In these things men are apt to fail in temptations and persecutions; and when any do so faint as that they take off from the confidence of their profession, and when they cannot with joy and satisfaction oppose the foundation and end of their hope unto these dangers, they are near unto backsliding. And these things also are inseparable from that faith whereby we are made the house of Christ; for although they may be intercepted in their acts for a season, by the power of some vigorous temptation, as they were in Peter, yet radically and habitually they are inseparable from faith itself, Romans 10:10.

These, therefore, are the things which the apostle intends in these words; and by showing them to be indispensable qualifications in them who are the house of Christ, he tacitly persuades the Hebrews to look after and to secure them in themselves, unto the end of his general exhortation before laid down.

In the last place, the apostle declareth the manner how these things are to be secured: “If we hold fast our confidence firm unto the end.” The duty itself, relating unto the manner of our retaining these things, is to “hold them fast;” the state of them, wherein they are to be retained, is “firm” or “steadfast;” and their duration in that estate is “to the end.”

The First is expressed by the word κατάσχωμεν, which signifies a careful, powerful holding any thing to it against opposition. κατέχειν τὸ πλῆθος, is effectually to retain the multitude in obedience when in danger of sedition. And κατέχειν, to hold, retain, or keep a place with a guard; as in Latin, “Oppidum praesidio tenere.” Two things, therefore, are represented in this word. First, That great opposition will arise against this duty, against our firmitude and constancy in profession. Secondly, That great care, diligence, and endeavor are to be used in this matter, or we shall fail and miscarry in it. Because of the opposition that is made against them, because of the violence that will be used to wrest them from us, unless we hold them fast, — that is, retain them with care, diligence, and watchfulness, — we shall lose them or be deprived of them.

Secondly, They are to be kept “firm.” The meaning of this word the apostle explaineth, Hebrews 10:23, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering;” βεβαίαν, that is, ἀκλινῆ, — without declining from it or shaking in it. It is not enough that we keep and retain, yea, hold fast our profession; but we must keep it up against that uncertainty and fluctuating of mind which are apt to invade and possess unstable persons in a time of trial.

Thirdly, Herein must we continue “unto the end;” that is, whilst we live in this world, — not for the present season only, but in all future occurrences, until we come unto the end of our faith, or the end of our lives and the salvation of our souls, The observations from these verses ensue: —

II. The building of the church is so great and glorious a work as that it could not be effected by any but he who was God. “He that built all things is God.” To him is it ascribed, Acts 20:28, 1 John 3:16. And it requires God to be the builder of it, —

First, For the wisdom of its contrivance. When God appointed Bezaleel to the work of building the tabernacle, he says, that he had “filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge,”

Exodus 31:3; and none were to be employed in the work with him but such as were “wise-hearted,” and into whom God had put wisdom, Exodus 31:6. And yet this was but for the building of an earthly tabernacle, and that not to contrive it, but only to make and erect it according to a pattern which God himself did frame. This they could not do until they were filled with the Spirit of God in wisdom. What, then, must needs be required unto the contrivance of this glorious, mysterious, spiritual, heavenly house of God? Nothing could effect it but infinite wisdom. Yea, “the manifold wisdom of God” was in it, Ephesians 3:10; “all the treasures of his wisdom and knowledge,” Colossians 2:3. In this infinite wisdom of God was the mysterious contrivance of this building hid from the foundation of the world, Ephesians 3:9; and its breaking forth from thence in the revelation of it made in the gospel was accompanied with so much glory that the angels of heaven did earnestly desire to bow down and look into it, 1 Peter 1:12. We have a very dark view of the glories of this building; and where it is mystically represented unto us, as Isaiah 60, Ezekiel 40-48, Revelations 21:22, we may rather admire at it than comprehend its excellency. But when we shall come to see how the foundation of it was laid, at which all the sons of God shouted for joy; how, by the strange and wonderful working of the Spirit of grace, all the stones designed from eternity for the building of this house were quickened and made living in all ages and generations; and how they are, from the beginning of the world unto the end of it, fitly framed together to be a temple unto the Lord; and what is the glory of God’s inhabitation therein, — we shall be satisfied that divine wisdom was required thereunto.

Secondly, For the power of its erection. It is the effect of divine power; and that whether we respect the opposition that is made unto it, or the preparing and fitting of the work itself. Those angels who left their first habitation had drawn all the whole creation into a conspiracy against the building of this house of God. Not a person was to be used therein but was engaged in an enmity against this work. And who shall prevail against this opposition? Nothing but divine power could scatter this combination of principalities and powers, and defeat the engagement of the world and the gates of hell against this design. Again, for the work itself; the sins of men were to be expiated, atonement for them was to be made, a price of redemption to be paid; dead sinners were to be quickened, blind eyes to be opened, persons of all sorts to be regenerated; ordinances and institutions of worship for beauty and glory to be erected; supplies of the Spirit at all times, and all ages and places, for its increase in grace and holiness, were to be granted, with other things innumerable; which nothing but divine power could effect. Consider but this one thing, whereas all the parts of this house are subject to dissolution, the persons whereof it consists do and must all die, he that builds this house must be able to raise them all from the dead, or else his whole work about the house itself is lost, Now, who can do this but he that is God? They who think this is the work of a mere man, know nothing of it; indeed, nothing of God, of themselves, of the Spirit of God, of faith, grace, redemption, or reality of the gospel as they ought. It is but a little dark view I can take of the wisdom and power that are laid out in this work, and yet I am not more satisfied that there is a God in heaven than I am that he that built this thing is God. And herein also may we see whence it is that this building goes on notwithstanding all the opposition that is made unto it. Take any one single believer, from the foundation of the world, and consider the opposition that is made, by sin, Satan, and the world, in temptations and persecutions, unto his interest in this house of God, and doth it not appear marvellous that he is so preserved, that he is delivered? How hath it been in this matter with our own souls, if we belong unto this house? That we should be “called out of darkness into marvellous light;” that we should be preserved hitherto, notwithstanding our weakness, faintings, infirmities, falls, sins, etc., — is there not some secret, hidden power that effectually, in ways unknown to us, unperceived by us, puts forth itself in our behalf? Take any particular church in any age, and consider the persons of whom it is composed; — commonly the poor, the weak, the foolish in and of the world, are the matter of it. The entanglements and perplexities that it meets withal from the remainders of its own darkness and unbelief, with the reproach and persecution which for the most part it meets withal in the world, seem enough to root it up, or to overwhelm it every moment, yet it abides firm and stable. Or consider the whole church, with all the individual persons belonging thereunto, and that in all ages, throughout all generations, and think what it requires for its preservation in its inward and outward condition. Divine power shineth forth in all these things. Not one stone of this building is lost or cast to the ground, much less shall ever the whole fabric of it be prevailed against.

III. The greatest and most honorable of the sons of men that are employed in the work of God in his house are but servants, and parts of the house itself: Hebrews 3:5, “Moses verily as a servant.”

Moses himself, the great lawgiver, was but a servant. And if he were no more, certainly none that followed him under the old testament, being all inferior unto him (seeing there arose not a prophet in Israel like unto him, Deuteronomy 34:10), were in any other condition. So did the principal builders of the church under the new testament declare concerning themselves. “Servants of Jesus Christ,” was their only title of honor; and they professed themselves to be servants of the church for Christ’s sake, 2 Corinthians 4:5. And on that ground did they disclaim all dominion over the faith or worship of the church, as being only “helpers of their joy,” 2 Corinthians 1:24; “not lords over the Lord’s heritage, but ensamples to the flock,” 1 Peter 5:3; — all according to the charge laid upon them by their Lord and Master, Matthew 20:25-27. And this appears, —

First, Because no man hath any thing to do in this house but by virtue of commission from him who is the only Lord and Ruler of it. This bespeaks them servants. They are all taken up in the marketplace from amongst the number of common men by the Lord of the vineyard, and sent into it by him. Neither are they sent to rest or sleep there, nor to eat the grapes and fill themselves, much less to tread down and spoil the vines; but to work and labor until the evening, when they shall receive their wages. All things plainly prove them servants; and their commission is recorded, Matthew 28:18-20, which ought carefully to be attended unto.

Secondly, It is required of them, as servants, to observe and obey the commands of their Lord; and nothing else are they to do, have they to do in his house. It is required of them that they be faithful; and their faithfulness consists in their dispensation of the mysteries of Christ, 1 Corinthians 4:1-2. Moses himself, who received such a testimony unto his faithfulness from God, did nothing but what he commanded him, made nothing but according to the pattern showed him in the mount. Nor were the builders under the new testament to teach the church to do or observe any thing in the house of God but what the Lord Christ commanded them, Matthew 28:20. This is the duty of a faithful servant, and not to pretend his own power and authority to ordain things in the house, for its worship and sacred use, not appointed by his Lord and Master. There is a strange spiritual fascination in this matter, or men could not at the same time profess themselves to be servants, and yet not think that their whole duty consists in doing the will of their Lord, but also in giving out commands of their own to be observed. This is the work of lords, and not of servants. And if it be not forbidden them by Christ, I know not what is.

Thirdly, As servants they are accountable. They must give an account of all that they do in the house of their Lord. This their Master often and solemnly warns them of. See Matthew 24:45-51; Luke 12:42-48. An account he will have of the talents committed to them, — of their own gifts, and of the persons or souls committed to their charge, his sheep; an account of their labor, pains, diligence, and readiness to do and suffer according to his mind and will. An account they must give, Hebrews 13:17, and that unto the chief Shepherd when he comes, 1 Peter 5:4. It is to be feared that this is not much in some men’s thoughts, who yet are greatly concerned in it. They count their profits, advantages, preferments, wealth; but of the account they are to make at the last day they seem to make no great reckoning. But what do such men think? Are they lords, or servants? Have they a Master, or have they not? Are they to do their own wills, or the will of another? Do they fight uncertainly and beat the air, or have they some certain scope and aim before them? If they have, what can it be but how they may give up their account with joy? — joy, if not in the safety of all their flocks, through the sinful neglect and miscarriages of any of them, yet in their own faithfulness, and the testimony of their consciences thereunto.

Fourthly, As servants they shall have their reward, every one his penny, that which he hath labored for; for although they are but servants, yet they serve a good, just, great, and gracious Lord, who will not forget their labor, but give unto them a crown at his appearance, 1 Peter 5:4.

See hence the boldness of the “Man of sin” and his accomplices, whose description we have exactly, Matthew 24:48-49, — an “evil servant, who says in his heart that his Lord delayeth his coming, and so smites his fellow-servants, and eats and drinks with the drunken.” He pretends, indeed, to be a SERVANT OF SERVANTS, but under that specious title and show of voluntary humility takes upon him to be an absolute lord over the house of God. There are but two sorts of dominion; — first, that which is internal and spiritual, over the faith, souls, and consciences of men; and then that which is external, over their bodies and estates: and both of these doth he, this SERVANT OF SERVANTS, usurp in the house of God; and thereby sits in it, making ostentation of himself to be God. And two ways there are whereby supreme dominion in and about things sacred may be exercised; — one by making laws, ordinances, and institutions, religious or divine; the other by corporeal punishments and corrections of them who observe them not: and both these doth he exercise. What the Lord Christ commandeth to be observed in his church, he observeth not, nor suffereth those to do so who would; and what he hath not appointed or commanded, in instances innumerable he enjoineth to be observed. A wicked and evil servant, whose Lord in due time will call him to an account! Is this to be a servant, or a tyrant?

Others also would do well to ponder the account they are to make. And well is it with them, happy is their condition, whose greatest joy in this world, on solid grounds, is that they are in this work accountable servants.

IV. The great end of all Mosaical institutions was to represent or prefigure and give testimony unto the grace of the gospel by Jesus Christ. To this end was Moses faithful in the house of God, namely, to give testimony unto those things which were afterwards to be spoken. The demonstration of this principle is the main scope of this epistle so far as it is doctrinal, and the consideration of it will occur unto us in so many instances as that we shall not need here to insist on the general assertion.

V. It is an eminent privilege to be the house of Christ, or a part of that house: “Whose house are we.”

This the apostle minds the Hebrews of, that a sense of their privilege therein and advantage thereby might prevail with them unto the duties which he presseth them unto. And it is thus an advantage, — First, Because this house is God’s building: 1 Corinthians 3:9, “Ye are God’s building;” — a house that he built, and that in an admirable manner. The tabernacle of old was thus far of God’s building that it was built by his appointment, and that according to the pattern that he gave of it unto Moses. But this building is far more glorious: Hebrews 9:11, “A great and perfect tabernacle, not made with hands; that is to say, not of this building.”

Again; it is so of God’s building that none is employed in a way of authority for the carrying of it on but the Lord Christ alone, the Son and Lord over his own house. And he takes it upon himself: Matthew 16:18, “I will build my church.” But it may be objected, ‘That it is thus also with the whole world. It is the building of God, and was built by the Son, the eternal Word, by whom all things were made, and “without whom was not any thing made that was made,” John 1:2-3. Yea, it was built to be θεοῦ οἰκητήριον, — a habitation for the divine glory, in the providential manifestations of it.’I answer, All this is true. It is so, and is therefore excellent, and wonderfully sets out the glory of God, as hath been declared in the foregoing chapter. But yet this house whereof we speak on many accounts excelleth the whole fabric of heaven and earth; for, —

First, It is not barely a house, but it is a sacred house, a temple, — not an ordinary, but a holy, a dedicated dwelling-place. “Ye are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord,” Ephesians 2:20-21. This is God’s mansion, when all other things of the world are let out to farm unto the sons of men. They are cottages for flesh and blood to dwell in; this is God’s place of constant and special residence. Secondly, It is a special kind of temple; not like that built of old by Solomon, of stones, cedar wood, silver, and gold, but it is a spiritual house, 1 Peter 2:5, made up of living stones in a strange and wonderful manner, — a temple not subject to decay, but such as grows continually in every stone that is laid in it, and in the daily new addition of living stones unto it. And although these stones are continually removed, some from the lower rooms in this house in grace, to the higher storeys in glory, yet not one stone of it is, or shall be, lost for ever.

Thirdly, The maimer of God’s habitation in this house is peculiar also. He dwelt, indeed, in the tabernacle and temple of old, but how? By sacrifices, carnal ordinances, and some outward appearances of glory. In this house he dwells by his Spirit: “Ye are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit,” Ephesians 2:22; and, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” 1 Corinthians 3:16. Unspeakable, therefore, is this privilege; and so are the advantages which depend thereon.

VI. The greatness of this privilege requires an answerableness of duty. Because we are this house of God, it becometh us to “hold fast our confidence unto the end.” This is particularly expressed; but the reason is the same unto many other duties which on the account of our being the house of God are incumbent on us; as, —

1. Universal holiness, Psalms 93:5.

2. Especial purity of soul and body, becoming a habitation of the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.

3. Endeavors to fill up the place, state, condition, and relation that we hold unto the house, for the good of the whole, Colossians 2:19, Ephesians 4:15-16. For besides the general interest which all believers have in this house, which is equal in and unto them all, every one hath his especial place and order in this building.

(1.) In the peculiar season, age, or generation wherein our service in this house is expected; and these require several duties, suited unto the light, enjoyments, and trials, of the whole in them:

(2.) In the especial places or offices that any hold in this house:

(3.) In the respect that is to be had unto the particular or especial assembly of this house whereunto any living stone doth belong:

(4.)With respect unto advantages that any are intrusted withal, for the increase or edification of the house in faith and love; all which call for the discharge of many especial duties.

VII. In times of trial and persecution, freedom, boldness, and constancy in profession, are a good evidence unto ourselves that we are living stones in the house of God, and duties acceptable unto him.

“Hold fast,” saith the apostle, “your παῤῥησίαν,” — ‘your free, bold profession of the gospel, and your exultation in the hope of the great promises of it which are in it given unto you.’This duty God hath set a singular mark upon, as that which he indispensably requireth and that whereby he is peculiarly glorified. A blessed instance we have hereof in the three companions of Daniel. They beheld on the one side, “vultum instantis tyranni,” “the form of whose visage was changed with fury,” “furiis accensus, et ira terribilis;” on the other, a flaming, consuming furnace of fire, that they were instantly to be cast into if they let not go their profession. But behold their παῤῥησίαν, their “boldness” and “confidence” in their profession: Daniel 3:16-18, “They answered and said unto the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” They do not ask a moment’s space to deliberate in this matter. And a blessed end they had of their confidence. So Basil answered Julian, when he would have given him space to consult. “Do,” said he, “what you intend, for I will be the same to- morrow that I am this day.” This is readiness and alacrity to witness a good confession with boldness. So it is observed of Peter and John, Acts 4:13. The Jews were astonished, observing their παῤῥησίαν (the word in the text, which we there translate “boldness”), that is, their readiness and promptitude of mind and speech, in their confession of the name of Christ, when they were in prison and under the power of their adversaries. Hence also they that fail in this duty are termed δείλοι “fearful ones,” and are in the first rank of them who are excluded out of the new Jerusalem, Revelation 21:8. Peter, indeed, instructs us to be “ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh us a reason of the hope that is in us, μετὰ φόβου,” — “with fear,” 1 Peter 3:15; that is, with reverence unto God and the sacredness of those things wherein his name is concerned. But we must not do it μετὰ δειλίας with “a pusillanimous fear,” a fear of men, or respect unto what from them may befall us for our profession. These δειλοί, “fearful ones,” are those “meticulosi” which shake and tremble at the report of danger; so that when persecution ariseth, straightway they are offended, and give over their profession.

And in our discharge of this duty is the glory of God greatly concerned. The revenue of glory which God hath from any in this world ariseth principally, if not solely, from that profession which they make of the gospel and of their faith in the promises thereof. Hereby do they testify unto his authority, goodness, wisdom, grace, and faithfulness. Other way of giving glory unto God we have not, but by bearing witness unto his excellencies; that is, glorifying him as God. Now, when persecution and trouble arise about these things, a trial is made whether we indeed believe and put our trust in what we profess of God, and whether we value his promises above all present things whatever. And hereby is our heavenly Father glorified. This, therefore, is a singular privilege when it is given to believers, Philippians 1:29.

Again; by this means the souls of the saints have a trial and experiment of their own grace, of what sort it is; as Abraham had of his own faith and obedience in the great experiment which God gave him of it by his command for the sacrificing of Isaac. Tried graces are exceeding precious, 1 Peter 1:6-7, and are evidences that those in whom they are do belong to the house of God.

There are other observations, which the words tender unto us, that shall only be named.

VIII. Interest in the gospel gives sufficient cause of confidence and rejoicing in every condition. “Hold fast the rejoicing of your hope.” The riches of it are invaluable, eternal, peculiar, such as outbalance all earthly things, satisfactory to the soul, ending in endless glory; and he that is duly interested in them cannot but have abundant cause of “joy unspeakable” at all times.

IX. So many and great are the interveniences and temptations that lie in the way of profession, so great is the number of them that decay in it, or apostatize from it, that as unto the glory of God, and the principal [discovery] of its truth and sincerity, it is to be taken from its permanency unto the end: “Whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.”


Verses 7-11

HAVING demonstrated the pre-eminence of the Lord Christ above Moses in their respective ministries about the house of God, the apostle, according unto his design and method, proceeds unto the application of the truth he had evinced, in an exhortation unto stability and constancy in faith and obedience. And this he doth in a way that adds a double force to his inference and exhortation; — first, in that he presseth them with the words, testimonies, and examples recorded in the Old Testament, unto which they owned an especial reverence and subjection; and then the nature of the examples which he insists upon is such as supplies him with a new argument unto his purpose. Now this is taken from the dealing of God with them who were disobedient under the ministry and rule of Moses; which he further explains, Hebrews 3:15-19. For if God dealt in severity with them who were unbelieving and disobedient with respect unto him and his work who was but a servant in the house, they might easily understand what his dispensation towards them would be who should be so with respect unto the Son and his work, who is Lord over the whole house, and “whose house are we.”

Hebrews 3:7-11. διὸ, καθὼς λέγει τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον· σήμερον, ἑὰν τῆς φωνῆς αὐτοῦ ἀκούσητε, μὴ σκληρύνητε τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν, ὡς ἐν τῷ παραπικρασμῷ, κατὰ τὴν ἡμέραν τοῦ πειρασμοῦ ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ, οὗ ἐπείρασάν με οἱ πατέρες ὑμῶν, ἐδοκίμασάν με, καὶ ει῏δον τὰ ἔργα μου, τεσσαράκοντα ἕτη. διὸ προσώχθισα τῇ γενεᾷ ἐκείνῃ, καὶ ει῏πον· ᾿αεὶ πλανῶνται τῇ καρδίᾳ· αὐτοὶ δὲ οὐκ ἔγνωσαν τὰς ὁδούς μου. ῾ως ὤμοσα ἐν τῇ ὀργῇ μου· εἰ εἱσελεύσονται εἰς τὴν κατάπαυσίν μου.

There are some little varieties in some words and letters observed in some old manuscripts, but of no importance or use, and for the most part mere mistakes; as ἐνδοκίμασαν for ἐδοκίμασαν, ταύτῃ for ἐκείνη, ει῏πα for ει῏πον; as many such differences occur, where some have tampered to make the apostle’s words and the translation of the LXX. in all things to agree. καθώς, “sicut;” the Syriac and Arabic translations omit this word. “Wherefore the Holy Ghost saith.” ῾ως ἐν τῷ παραπικρασμῷ. So the LXX. in the psalm, “sicut in exacerbatione,” “in irritatione,” — “in the provocation.” Syr., “ut ad iram eum provocetis tanquam exacerbatores,” both in the psalm and here also, departing both from the Hebrew text and the apostolical version, — “ that you stir him not up to anger as provokers.” κατὰ τὴν ἡμέραν τοῦ πειρασμοῦ. So the LXX. in the psalm. Vulg., “secundum diem tentationis,” — “ according to the day of temptation;” that is, as those others, the fathers of the people, did in the day of temptation: so also in this place following the LXX. in the psalm, though not only the original but that version also might more properly be rendered, “sieur in die tentationis,” “as in the day of temptation.” οὗ ἐπείρασαν. The translator of the Syriae version in the psalm, “qua tentarunt,” that is, “qua die;” referring it unto the time of the temptation, “the day wherein.” Here “quum,” “when,” to the same purpose. Neither was there any need of the variety of expression, the word used by that translator in both places being the same, referring unto time, not place, — the day of temptation, not the wilderness wherein it was. Vulg., “ubi,” properly “where;” as the Arabic, “in quo,” “in which,” — “desert,” the next antecedent. Ethiop, “Eo quod tentarunt eum patres vestri, tentarunt me,” — “Whereas your fathers tempted him, they tempted me.” For it was Christ who was tempted in the wilderness, 1 Corinthians 10:9.

“Saw my works τεσσαράκοντα ἔτη,” — “forty years.” Here the apostle completes the sense; for although sundry editions of the New Testament, as one by Stephen, and one by Plantin, out of one especial copy, place the period at ἔργα μου, “my works,” yet the insertion of διό after τεσσαράκοντα ἔτη by the apostle, proves the sense by him there to be concluded. So is it likewise by the Syriac in the psalm, and by all translations in this place. However, the Ethiopic, omitting διό, seems to intend another sense. The LXX. and Vulgar Latin in the psalm follow the original; though some copies of the LXX. have been tampered withal, to bring them to conformity with the apostle here, as usually it hath fallen out. And there is no doubt but that the order of the words in the Syriac version on the psalm came from this place.

προσώχθισα, “offensus fui,” “incensus fui;” Arab., “exsecratus sum,” — “I cursed this generation.” ᾿αεὶ πλανῶνται. The original in the psalm, עם זֶה, (3) “this people,” which in the psalm is followed by the Syriac; and, contrary to the apostle, the same expression is retained in that version on this place. The LXX. in the psalm have taken in these words of the apostle, and left out those of the original; wherein they are (as almost constantly in the Psalms) followed by the Vulgar Latin.

διό, “wherefore.” It expresseth an inference from what was spoken before, manifesting the ensuing exhortation to be deduced from thence. And it hath respect unto the exhortation itself which the apostle directly enters upon, 1 Corinthians 10:12, “Take heed, brethren,” — ‘Wherefore take heed, brethren.’

There is therefore a hyperbaton in the discourse, the words that agree in sense being separated by an interposition of other things; and there is between them a digression to an example or argument for the better enforcement of the exhortation itself.

καθὼς λέγει τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον, “as the Holy Ghost saith;” or, ‘that I may use the words of the Holy Ghost.’There is an emphasis in the manner of the expression, — τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον, “that Holy Spirit;” so called κατ᾿ ἐξοχήν, by way of eminency, the third person in the Trinity, who in an especial manner spake in the penmen of the Scripture. Those holy men of God spake ὑπὸ πνεύματος ἁγίου φερόμενοι, “moved,” “acted,” “inspired by the Holy Ghost,” 2 Peter 1:21.

καθὼς λέγει, “as he saith.” This may intend either his first immediate speaking in his inspiration of the psalmist, as it is expressed, Hebrews 4:7, ἐν δαβὶδ λέγων, “saying in David,” where these words are again repeated; or his continuing still to speak these words to us all in the Scripture. Being given out by inspiration from him, and his authority always accompanying them, he still speaketh them.

The words reported by the apostle are taken from Psalms 95:7-11. He mentions not the especial place, as speaking unto them who either were, or whom he would have to be exercised in the word, 2 Timothy 3:15. Besides, though such particular citations of places may be needful for us, for a present help unto them that hear or read, it was not so to the holy penmen of the New Testament, whose writings are continually to be searched and meditated upon all our lives, John 5:39. Whereas ours are transient and for the present occasion, every thing in their writings (which makes us attentive and industrious in our search) is to our advantage. The leaving, therefore, of an uncertainty whence particular quotations are taken is useful to make us more sedulous in our inquiries.

This psalm the apostle makes use of both in this chapter, and the next. In this, he manifests it to contain a useful and instructive example, in what happened unto the people of God of old. In the next, he shows that not only a moral example may be taken from what so fell out, but also that there was a type in the things mentioned in it (and that according unto God’s appointment) of our state and condition; and moreover, a prophecy of the gospel state of the church under the Messiah, and the blessed rest therein to be obtained. Here we have the consideration of it as historical and exemplary; in the next we shall treat of it as prophetical.

The Jews had a tradition that this psalm belonged unto the Messiah. Hence the Targum renders these words of the first verse, לְצוּר יִשְׁעֶלוּ, “to the rock of our salvation,” קדם תקי פיאּקנא, “before the mighty one of our redemption;” with respect unto the redemption to be wrought by the Messiah, whom they looked for as the Redeemer, Luke 24:21. Sover. 7, יומא דין, “in that day,” seems to refer unto the same season. And the ancient Jews do frequently apply these words, “To-day, if ye will hear his voice,” unto the Messiah. For from these words they have framed a principle, that if all Israel would repent but one day the Messiah would come, because it is said, “To-day, if ye will hear his voice.” So in the Talmud. Tract. Taanith., distinc. Mamarai Maskirin. And the same words they used in Midrash Shirhashirim, cap. 5: Hebrews 3:2. And this is no small witness against them as to the person of the Messiah; for he is God undoubtedly concerning whom the psalmist speaks, as is evident from Hebrews 3:2-7. He whose voice they are to hear, whom they acknowledge to be the Messiah, is “Jehovah, the great God,” Hebrews 3:3; “who made the sea, and formed the dry land,” Hebrews 3:5; “the LORD our maker,” Hebrews 3:6. And indeed this psalm, with those that follow unto the 104th, is evidently of those new songs which belong unto the kingdom of the Messiah. And this is among the Jews the שִׁיר חָדָשׁ, or principal “new song,” expressing that renovation of all things which under it they expect. The next psalm expresseth it: “Sing unto the LORD שִׁיר חָדָשׁ,” “a new song.” על העתידּ מזמור זה, saith Rashi, “This psalm is for the time to come;” that is, the days of the Messiah. σήμερον, “hodie,” “today,” “this day.” A certain day or space of time is limited or determined, as the apostle speaks in the next chapter. And the psalm being in part, as was showed, prophetical, it must have a various application; for it both expresseth what was then done and spoken in the type, with regard to what was before as the foundation of all, and intimateth what should afterwards be accomplished in the time prefigured, in what the words have respect unto as past.

The general foundation of all lies in this, that a certain limited present space of time is expressed in the words. This is the moral sense of them: — limited, because a day; present, because to-day. And this space may denote in general the continuance of men’s lives in this world. הָיּוֹם; that is, saith Rashi, בעולם הזה, “in this world,” in this life: afterwards there will be neither time nor place for this duty. But yet the measure of such a day is not merely our continuance in a capacity to enjoy it, but the will of God to continue it. It is God’s day that is intended, and not ours, which we may outlive, and lose the benefit of it, as will afterwards appear.

Again, the general sense of the word is limited to a special season, both then present when the words were spoken, and intimated in prophecy to come afterwards. For the present, or David’s time, that refers, saith Aben Ezra, to נִשְׁתַּחֲיֶח בּאֹוּ, “come, let us fall down and worship,” Hebrews 3:6; as if he had said, ‘If you will hear his voice, come and worship before him this day.’And in this sense, it is probable that some especial feast of Moses’ institution, when the people assembled themselves unto the solemn worship of God, was intended. Many think that this psalm was peculiarly appointed to be sung at the feast of tabernacles. Neither is it unlikely, that feast being a great type and representation of the Son of God coming to pitch his tabernacle amongst us, John 1:14. Let this, then, pass for David’s typical day. But that a farther day is intended herein the apostle declares in the next chapter. Here the proper time and season of any duty, of the great duty exhorted unto, is firstly intended, as is evident from the application that the apostle makes of this instance, John 1:13, “Exhort one another daily, while it is called הַיּוֹם σήμερον, “to-day;” that is, whilst the season of the duty is continued unto you.’So was it also originally used by the psalmist, and applied unto the duties of the feast of tabernacles, or some other season of the performance of God’s solemn worship.

᾿εάν, “si,” “if;” a mere conditional, as commonly used. But it is otherwise applied in the New Testament, as Matthew 8:19, “I will follow thee ὅπου ἐὰν ἀπέρχῃ,” — “ whithersoever thou goest.” And Matthew 12:36, “Every idle word ὅ ἐὰν λαλήσωσιν οἱ ἄνθρωποι,” — “which men shall speak.” There is no condition or supposition included in these places, but the signification is indefinite, “whosoever,” “whatsoever,” “whensoever.” Such may be the sense of it in this place; which would, as some suppose, remove a difficulty which is cast on the text; for make it to be merely a conditional, and this and the following clause seem to be coincident, “If ye will hear,” that is, obey his voice, “harden not your hearts;” for to hear the voice of God, and the not hardening of our hearts, are the same. But there is no necessity, as we shall see, to betake ourselves unto this unusual sense of the word.

τῆς φωνῆς αὐτοῦ ἀκούσητε, — “Ye will hear his voice:” בְּקֹלוֹ תִשְׁמָעוּ. Where-ever this construction of the words doth occur in the Hebrew, — that שָׁמַע is joined with בְּקוֹל, whether it be spoken of God in reference unto the voice of man, or of man in reference unto the voice of God, — the effectual doing and accomplishment of the thing spoken of is intended. So Numbers 14:22, “They have tempted me these ten times, ולְֹא שָׁמְעוּ בְּקוֹלִי,” “and have not heard my voice;” that is, ‘have not yielded obedience to my command.’So of God with reference unto men: Joshua 10:14,” There was no day like that, before nor after it, בְּקוֹל אִישׁ לִשִׁמֹעַ יְהָֹוה that the LORD should hearken to the voice of a man;” that is, effectually to do so great a thing as to cause the sun and moon to stand still in heaven. So between man and man, Deuteronomy 21:18-19. See Matthew 18:15-17. It is frequently observed, that to “hear,” to “hearken,” in the Scripture, signifies to “obey,” or to “yield obedience to the things heard;” as to “see” doth to “understand” or “believe,” and to “taste” denotes “spiritual experience;” words of outward sense being used to express the inward spiritual acts of the mind. Sometimes I say it is so, but this phrase is always so used. The Holy Ghost, therefore, herein lays down the duty which we owe to the word, to the voice of God, when we hear it in the way of his appointment, — that is, to yield sincere obedience unto it; and the hinderance thereof is expressed in the next words. Now, as this command is translated over into the gospel, as it is by our apostle in the next chapter, it hath respect unto the great precept of hearing and obeying the voice of Christ, as the great prophet of the church; given originally, Deuteronomy 18:19, “Whosoever will not hearken unto my words, which he shall speak in my name” (for the Father speaketh in the Son, Hebrews 1:1-2). “I will require it of him,” Acts 3:22-23; which was again solemnly renewed upon his actual exhibition: Matthew 17:5, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” See 2 Peter 1:17. And he is thereon, as we have seen, compared with Moses in his prophetical office, and preferred above him, John 1:17-18.

יְהָֹוה בְּקֹלוֹּ τῆς φωνῆς αὐτοῦ קוֹל, “the voice of the LORD,” is sometimes taken for his power, inasmuch as by his word, as an intimation and signification of the power which he puts forth therein, he created and disposeth of all things. See Psalms 29:3-5; Psalms 29:7-9, where the mighty works of God’s power and providence are assigned unto his voice. See also Micah 6:9. Sometimes it is used for the revelation of his will in his commands and promises. This is the λόγος προφορικός of God, the word of his will and pleasure. But it is withal certain that קוֹלand φωνή are used principally, if not solely, for a sudden, transient voice or speaking. For the word of God as delivered in the Scripture is דָּבָרand λόγος, sometimes ῥῆμα, not קוֹלor φωνή. So the lifting up of the voice amongst men, is to make some sudden outcry; as, “They lifted up their voice and wept.” These words, then, do ordinarily signify a sudden, marvelous speaking of God from heaven, testifying unto anything. So doth φωνή, Mark 1:11, καὶ φωνὴ ἐγένετο ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν, — “And there was a voice from heaven.” So Matthew 17:5; Luke 3:22; John 12:28, ῏ηλθεν ου῏ν φανὴ ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, — “There came therefore a voice from heaven:” which when the multitude heard, they said βροντὴν γεγονέναι, thundered;” for thunder was called קוֹל אַלֹהִים, “the voice of God.” So the קֹלֹת, “the voices,” Exodus 19:16, that accompanied the בְיָקִים or “lightnings,” that is, the thunders that were at the giving of the law, are rendered by our apostle φωνὴ ῥημάτων, Hebrews 12:19; that is, the thunders from heaven which accompanied the words that were spoken. So is φωνή used Acts 10:13; Acts 10:15; Acts 26:14. Hence came the בת קול, “Bath Kol” among the ancient Jews: or, as. in the Chaldee, קלא ברת, Genesis 38:26. “There came filia vocis” (“the daughter of the voice”) “from heaven.” And so the Syriac version in this place: ברת קלה תשמעין אן, “if you will hear the daughter of the voice.”

They called it so, as being an effect or product of the power of God, to cause his mind and will to be heard and understood by it. They thought it was not the voice of God himself immediately, but as it were the echo of it, — a secondary voice, the offspring of another. And whereas they acknowledge, that after the building of the second temple the רוח נבואה, or רוח הקדוש, the “Spirit of prophecy and of inspiration,” ceased in their, church, they contend that revelations were made by the by the בת קול, or immediate voice from heaven, though they can instance in none but those which concerned our Savior, which the apostles declared and made famous, 2 Peter 1:17. But it may be there is that in this tradition which they understand not. Elias in his Tishbi tells us, כן הוא בעלי הקבלה אומרים שהוא קול של מדה אחת הנקראת קול אולי, — “The Cabbalists say that it is the voice of a property in God which is called Kol; and it may be it is so.” They have no other way to express a person in the divine nature but by מדה, a special property. And one of these, they say, is called “Kol,” that is, “the Word,” the eternal Word or Son of God. His especial speaking is intended in this expression; which is true. So his speaking is called his “speaking from heaven,” Hebrews 12:25; although I deny not but that the immediate speaking of the Father in reference unto the Son is sometimes so expressed, Matthew 17:5, 2 Peter 1:17. But an especial, extraordinary word is usually so intended. So our Savior tells the Pharisees, that they had not heard φωνήν, the voice of God at any time, nor seen his ει῏δος, his shape, John 5:37. They had heard the voice of God in the reading and preaching of the word, but that was ὁ λόγος, “his word.” His φωνήν they had not heard. Notwithstanding all their pretences and boasting’s, they had not at any time extraordinary revelations of God made unto them. For there is an allusion to the revelation of the will of God at Horeb, when his קיֹל, or φωνή, or “voice,” was heard, and his מַאְּאֶה or εἷδος, his “shape,” appeared, or a miraculous appearance of his presence was made; both now being accomplished in himself in a more eminent manner, as the apostle declares, John 1:16-18. It is true the Lord Christ calls his ordinary preaching, as we say, “viva voce,” τὴν φωνήν, his “voice,” John 10:3; John 10:16; but this he doth because it was extraordinary, his person, work, and call being so. Wherefore the psalmist in these words, as to the historic and typical intendment of them, recalls the people unto the remembrance and consideration of God’s speaking unto them in the giving of the law at Horeb, and exhorts them unto obedience unto it formally upon that consideration, — namely, that the will of God was uttered unto them in a marvellous and extraordinary manner. And as to the prophetical intendment of it, he intimates another extraordinary revelation of it, to be made by the Messiah, the Son of God. ΄ὴ σκληρύνητε τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν, אלאּתַּקְשׁוּ לְבַבְכֶם, — “Harden not your hearts.” This expression is sacred; it occurs not in other authors. To harden the heart, is a thing peculiarly regarding the obedience that God requireth of us. σκληρότης, “hardness,” is indeed sometimes used in heathen writers for stubbornness of mind and manners. So Aristotle says of some that they are ὀνομαστότατοι ἐπὶ σκληρότητι, “famous for stubbornness.” Such as Homer describes Achilles to have been, who had περισκελεῖς φρένας, “a hard, stubborn, inflexible mind.” So is σκληροτράχηλος sometimes used, “duricervicus,” “hard-necked” or “stiff-necked,” “curvicervicum pecus,” “a crook-necked, perverse beast.”

But “to harden,” is scarcely used unless it be in the New Testament and in the translation of the Old by the LXX. Three times it occurs in the New Testament,— Acts 19:9, Romans 9:18, and in this chapter; everywhere by Paul, so that it is a word peculiar unto him. σκληρύνειν τὴν καρδίαν, therefore, “to harden the heart,” in a moral sense, is peculiar to holy writ; and it is ascribed both to God and man, but in different senses, as we shall see afterwards. By this word the apostle expresseth קָשָׁה out of the original; that is, “to be hard, heavy, and also difficult.” In Hiphil it is “to harden and make obdurate,” and is used only in a moral sense. The LXX. render it constantly by σκληρύνω, “induro;” or “gravo,” 1 Kings 12:4 : to “harden,” or to “burden.” Sometimes it is used absolutely: Job 9:4, הִקְשָׁה אֵלָיו, “hardened against him,” that is, himself; — “hardened himself against him.” Ofttimes it hath עֹרֶ, the “neck,” added unto it: מקְשֶׁה עֹיֶ, Proverbs 29:1, that “stiffeneth,” or “hardeneth his neck;” as one that goes on resolvedly, as will not so much as turn aside or look back towards any one that calls him. Sometimes it hath רוּחַ, the “spirit” joined to it: Deuteronomy 2:30, הִקְשָׁה אֶתאּרוּחוֹ, “he hardened his spirit.” But most commonly it hath לֵבָב the “heart,” as here. And it still in man denotes a voluntary perverseness of mind, in not taking notice of, or not applying the soul unto the will of God as revealed, to do and observe it.

῾ως ἐν τῷ παραπικρασμῷ, “as in the provocation;” כִּמְיִיבָה. The LXX. render this word, where it is first used, by λοιδόρησις, “convitium,” “a reproach,” Exodus 17:7; afterwards constantly by ἀντιλογία, “contradiction,” or contention by words, as Numbers 20:13; Numbers 27:14, Deuteronomy 33:8; and nowhere by παραπικρασμός, as in this place of the psalm. Hence some suppose it is evident that the present Greek translation is not the work or endeavor of the same persons, but a cento of many essays. I rather think that we have hence a new evidence of the insertion of the apostle’s words into that version; for, as I will not deny but that the writers of the New Testament might make use of that Greek version of the Old which was then extant, so that many words and expressions are taken from them, and inserted in that which we now enjoy, is too evident for any man of modesty or sobriety to deny. And this word, as here compounded, is scarce used in any other author. πικρός is “bitter,” in opposition to γλυκὺς, “sweet,” “pleasant;” that is the proper, natural sense of the word. So also of πικρόω and πικραίνω, “to make bitter to the taste” or sense. But the metaphorical use of these words in a moral sense is frequent for “exacerbo,” “provoco.” The Hebrew כִּעֵס, is “to stir up to anger,” “to vex,” “imbitter,” “provoke,” as 1 Samuel 1:6.

So παραπικρασμός must be” exacerbatio,” “provocatio,” an imbittering, a provocation to anger by contention: מְיִיבָה, which here is so rendered, is “jurgium,” a strife agitated in words. We render it “chiding.” The story which this principally refers unto is recorded, Exodus 17:1-7,

“And they pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink. Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the LORD? And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children, and our cattle, with thirst?

And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me. And the LORD said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go. Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not?”

Another story to the like purpose we have of what befell the people in the wilderness of Zin nearly forty years afterwards, when, in their murmuring for water, another reek was smitten to bring it forth, whereon it is added, “This is the water of Meribah; because the children of Israel strove with the LORD,Numbers 20:13. is also said on the same occasion that they “chode with Moses,” Numbers 20:3.

κατὰ τὴν ἡμέραν τοῦ πειρασμοῦ, כְּיוֹם מַסָה; — “as in the day of Massah,” or “temptation;” מסָה, from נָסָה, “to tempt;” the other name given to the place before mentioned in Exodus: for thence it is that the apostle takes his example, where both the names are mentioned, and where the place is said to be called Massah and Meribah; whereas in that of Numbers it is only said, “This is the water of Meribah,” or strife. And yet it may be not without respect to the latter also. The first instance was at the beginning, the latter at the close of their provocations. As they began so they ended. This was a remarkable passage between God and that people; for, first, a double name is given to the place where it fell out: “He called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah,” Exodus 17:7. Meribah, which the apostle renders παραπικρασμός, seems principally or firstly to respect Moses as the object of it: Exodus 17:2, ויָרֶב הָעָם עִם משֶׁה, “and the people chode with Moses.” Thence had the place the name of Chiding, “Meribah,” from “jareb.” And God was the immediate object of their temptation. So in the text there is made a distribution of these things distinctly, whence these several names arose. “And Moses said unto the people, מהאּתְּיִיביּן עִמָדִי מַהאּתְּנַסין אֶתאּיְהָֹיה, ” “Why do ye chide with me” (Meribah)? “and wherefore do ye tempt the Lord” (Massah)? For in the same things and words wherein they chode with Moses they tempted the Lord. And hence the same word, of chiding, striving, contending, or provoking, is used in this matter towards the Lord Numbers 20:13, רָבוּ אֶתאּיְהָֹוה, “they strove” (or “chode”) “with the LORD.”

Secondly, This matter, as a thing exceedingly remarkable, is often called over and remembered again in the Scripture. Sometimes on the part of the people; and that,

1. To reproach and burden them with their sins, as Deuteronomy 9:22, “And at Massah ye provoked the LORD to wrath;” and sometimes,

2. To warn them of the like miscarriages, Deuteronomy 6:16, “Ye shall, not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah.” So also in the 95th Psalm, from whence the apostle takes these words. Again, it is remembered as an instance of the faithfulness of Levi, who clave to God in those trials: Deuteronomy 33:8,

“And of Levi he said, Let thy Thummim and thy Urim be with thy Holy One, whom thou didst prove at Massah, and with whom thou didst strive at the waters of Meribah.”

The mercy likewise that ensued in giving them waters from the rock is frequently celebrated, Deuteronomy 8:15, Psalms 78:15-16; Psalms 105:41, Nehemiah 9:15. Moreover, in this rock of Horeb lay hid a spiritual Rock, as our apostle tells us, 1 Corinthians 10:4, even Christ, the Son of God, who, being smitten with the rod of Moses, or the stroke and curse of the law administered by him, gave out waters of life freely to all that thirst and come unto him. In this matter, therefore, is comprehended a great instance of providence and a great mystery of grace. But yet notwithstanding all this, although the especial denomination of the sin of the people be taken from that instance of Exodus 17, yet the expressions are not to be confined or appropriated only thereunto. For the particular provocation on which God sware against them that they should not enter into his rest fell out afterwards, Numbers 14, as we shall see in our progress. But this is eminently referred unto, —

1. Because it was upon the very entrance of that course of provoking which they constantly persisted in until they were consumed;

2. Because of the signal and significant miracles and works which God wrought thereon.

᾿εν ἐρήμῳ, בּמִּדְבָּר; — “in the desert,” or “wilderness,” namely, of Midian, where-into that people entered upon their coming through the sea. In their way towards Horeb, their fourth station was at Rephidim, where the things fell out before recounted. So they received refreshment in a type, from the spiritual Rock, some days before the giving of the fiery law.

οὗ ἐπείρασάν, אֲשֶׁר אֲשֶׁר נִסּוּנִיis referred both to time and place as well as persons. We render οὗ here, “when,” — “ when your fathers tempted me;” and so אֲשֶׁרin the psalm; referring what is spoken to the time mentioned, or the day of temptation. So the Syriac, “in which day.”

The Vulg. Lat..,” ubi,” “where,” that is in the desert, at Meribah or Massah. And this is the proper signification of the word. Nor is either οὗ or ποῦ, the interrogative, ever used in any good authors to denote time, but place only. “Where,” that is בּמִּדְ בָּר, in the wilderness, where they tempted God and saw his works forty years.

οἱ πατέρες ὑμῶν, אֲבוֹתֵיכֶם; — “your fathers,” or “forefathers;” πρόγονοι, “progenitors,” 2 Timothy 1:3. So is πατέρες often used, and אֲבוֹת most frequently; although in one place ראִשֹׁנִים be added: אֲבוֹתָם הָרִאשֹׁנִים, Jeremiah 11:10; — the first springs and heads of any nation or family, — the whole congregation in the wilderness, whose posterity they were.

᾿εδοκίμασὰν με, בְּחָנוּנִי; — “proved me.” This word is seldom used in an ill sense, as the former is almost continually. בָּחַןis to have experience, upon search, investigation, and trial, Psalms 139:23. The experience, therefore, that they had of the power of God upon their temptations, is that which by this word is intended. ‘They “proved me” and found by trial that I was in the midst of them.’ καὶ ει῏δον τὰ ἔργα μου, גּםאּרָאוּ פָעֲלִי; — “and saw my works.” “And saw my work,” in the psalm. גַּםis rendered by καί. It signifies “also,” “moreover,” somewhat above a mere conjunction; and so doth καί, most frequently “quinetiam.” Some suppose it may be here taken for “etse” “etiam,” “although.” ‘They tempted me, and proved me, “although they saw my works.”’And so these words are placed as an aggravation of their sin in tempting of God, distrusting of him, after they had had such experience of his power and goodness, in those mighty works of his which they saw. But the order of things also seems to be intended. First they tempted God, — “They tempted me.” Then they had an experience of his power, — “They proved me;” and that by the production of his mighty works which they saw. For generally all the works of God in the wilderness, whether of mercy or judgment, were consequents of, or ensued upon the people’s tempting of him. Such was his bringing water out of the rock, and sending of quails and manna. The people murmured chode, strove, tempted; then the power of God was manifested and the works were wrought which they saw. were the judgments that he wrought and executed on Korah, Dathan, and Abiram; and on the spies that brought up an evil report on the land, with those that adhered unto them. This order and method of things is here expressed. They tempted God by their complaints, repinings, murmurings, seditions, unbelief, weariness of their condition, with impatient desires and wishings after other things. Hereupon they had frequent trials of the power, care, and faithfulness of God; as also of his holiness, and indignation against their sins. All these were made manifest in the mighty works of providence, in mercies and judgments which he wrought amongst them, and which they saw. They had them not by report or tradition, but saw them with their own eyes, which was a great aggravation of their unbelief. Jarchi refers this to the works of God in Egypt only; but this is contrary to our apostle, although they are not to be excluded: Numbers 14:22, “They have seen my glow, and my miracles” (my glorious works), “which I did in Egypt, and in the wilderness.”

τεσσαράκοντα ἔτη, — “forty years.” Here the apostle finisheth the sense of the words, referring them to what goes before: ‘They saw my works forty years.’The psalmist as was before observe, placeth these words in the beginning of the next verse, and makes them to respect the season of God’s indignation against them for their sins; ארְבָּעִים שָׁנָה, — “forty years was I grieved.” By the apostle, the space of time mentioned is applied unto the people’s seeing of works of God; by the psalmist, to God’s indication against them. And these things being absolutely commensurate in their duration, it is altogether indifferent to which of them the limitation of time specified is formally applied; and the apostle shows it to be indifferent, in that in the 17th verse of this chapter he plies the space of time unto God’s being grieved with them, as here unto the people’s sin: “With whom was he grieved forty years?’Only, it may be, the apostle made this distinction of the words to intimate, that the oath of God against the entering of that people into his rest was not made after the end of forty years, as the order of the words in the psalm seems to import: “Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they We not known my ways: unto whom I sware in my that they should not enter into my rest.” They seem to intimate, that God thus sware in his wrath after he had been grieved with them forty years. But they do but seem so: really they only declare that it was the same people with whom he was grieved concerning whom he sware; for the oath of God here intended is that mentioned, Numbers 14:20-23. The people falling into a high sedition and murmuring, upon the report of the spies that were sent to search the land, the Lord sware by himself that that whole generation should wander forty years in that wilderness, until they were all consume. Now, this was upon the next year after their coming up out of Egypt, and after which the forty years of their prorations and God’s indignation ensue. But these things, as to time, were of the same duration. The people came out of Egypt, and entered into the wilderness in the first month of the year. At the end of the fortieth year from their coming out of Egypt, the eleventh month of it, is issued the history of three of the books of Moses, — Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers. In the last month of that year Moses reviewed and repeated the whole law, the dealings of God, and sins of the people, as recorded in the book of Deuteronomy. About the end of that month, as is probable, he died, and was lamented thirty days, or all the first month of the forty-first year. After which, about three or four days, the people prepared to pass over Jordan, under the conduct of Joshua 1:11. This was the space of time mentioned, containing as wonderful issues and successes of things as ever befell the church of God in the like space of time. Every year in the whole forty was full of instances of the people’s sins, provocations, temptations, and unbelief; and every year also was filled with tokens of God’s displeasure and indignation, until the close of the whole dispensation came, wherein that generation that came out of Egypt under Moses was consumed, and the indignation of God rested in their consumption. And it is not unlikely but that the apostle minds the Hebrews of this space of time granted unto their forefathers in the wilderness after their coming up out of Egypt, with their abuse of it, because an alike space of time was now, in the patience of God, allotted unto the whole church and people of the Jews, between the preaching of Christ and that wasting destruction that was to come upon them. And according to this type it fell out with them; for, as after their forefathers, who came up under Moses out of Egypt were consumed in forty years in the wilderness, a new church, a new generation, under the conduct of Joshua, entered into the rest of God; so within forty years after the preaching of spiritual deliverance unto them, which was rejected by them, that whole generation was cut off in the wrath of God, and a new church of Jews and Gentiles, under the conduct of the true Joshua, enters into the rest of God.

διὸ προσώχθισα, — “Wherefore I was grieved.” The apostle here alters the tenor of the discourse in the psalmist, by interposing a reference unto the cause of God’s being grieved with the people, in the word διό, “wherefore;” that is, because of their manifold temptations and provocations, not cured, not healed, although for so long a season they beheld his works. They continued in the same kind of sins on the account whereof God was first provoked, and sware against their entering into the land. For, as we have before observed, the oath of God passed against them at the beginning of the forty years; but they abiding obstinately in the same sins, the execution of that oath had respect unto all their provocations during the whole forty years. προσώχθισα, “I was grieved.” This word is supposed peculiar unto the Hellenistical Jews, nor doth ,it occur in any other author, but only in the Greek version of the Old Testament. Nor is it used by the LXX. in any place to express קיט, the word here used in the original, but they render it by κάμνω, ἐκτήκω, and κοπέω. In the New Testament it is only in this place, and thence transferred into the psalm. It is generally thought to be derived from ὄχθη or ὄχθος, “the bank of a river, a rising hill or ridge by the water’s side.” Thence is ὀχθέω, “to be offended,” to bear a thing difficultly, with tediousness and vexation, so as to rise up with indignation against it, like the ground that riseth against the waters. προσοχθίζω is the same, with an addition of sense, “to be greatly grieved.” And this word, “to be grieved,” is ambiguous even in our language: for it either is as much as “dolore affici,” to be affected with sorrow and grief, or a being wearied, accompanied with indignation; as we say, such or such a thing is grievous, — that is, “grave,” “molestum,” or “troublesome.” And so is the word here used, “grieved,” that is burdened, and provoked, offended. So Jerome: “Displicuit mihi generatio ista,” “displeased me.” “Pertuli eam, sed non sine taedio,” — “I bare them, but not without wearisomeness.” Symmachus and Aquila render the original word by δυσαρεστέομαι,” to be displeased.”

קוּט אָקוטּ is a word often used, and of an ambiguous signification, — “to cut off,”.” to contend,” “to abominate,” (hence by the Arabic it is rendered “cursed them,”) to be “divided with trouble, offense, weariness, and grief.” It is commonly in the feminine gender, and joined with נפְשִׁי, “my soul,” or חיָי, “my life.” This is the intendment of it: The appointed time of God’s patience was worn out with their continued provocations, so that he was wearied with them, and weary of them, — he could bear them no longer.

The Vulgar Latin in some copies reads, “Proximus fui huic generationi,” — “I was near to this generation.” And so are the words still in some of the Roman offices. Some think that countenance is given hereto by the sense of the word προσώχθισα, which may signify “accedere” or “proximate ad ripam animo hostili,” — “ to draw near to a shore, a bank, with a hostile mind.” Now, it doth not denote only that particular provocation, when God in an especial manner entered his caveat against them that they should not enter into his rest, seeing not only the psalmist in this place, but also our apostle, Joshua 1:17, directly refers it to the frame of his mind towards them during the whole forty years. He was wearied by them, and grew weary of them.

τῇ γενεᾷ ἐκείνῃ, “that generation;” בְּדוֹר, “in the generation,” — that is, “with that generation.” דּוֹרis an age of man, or rather the men of one age: Ecclesiastes 1:4,” One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh,” — that is, the men of one age. See Deuteronomy 32:7. So is γενεή, as in Homer’s Iliad, 6:146: —

οἵη περ φύλλων γενεή, τοιήδε καὶ ἀνδρῶν.

And when it is taken for “aetas” or “seculum,” it doth not primarily intend a duration of time, but the persons living in that time. Herodotus, in Euterpe, reckons thirty years to a γενεά, a “generation.” So doth Plutarch also in De Defect. Oraculorum. The generation here denotes no limited season, but com-priseth all the persons that came up out of Egypt above twenty years of age, who all died within the space of forty years afterwards.

᾿αεὶ πλανῶνται τῇ καρδίᾳ, “They always err in heart;” תֹּעֵי לֵבָב הֵם עם,They are a people erring in heart.” The words of the psalmist are somewhat changed by the apostle, but the sense is absolutely the same, for, taking the people to be sufficiently signified, he adds a word to denote the constant course of their provocations, — “ always,” on all occasions, in every trial. Not in any one condition did they give glory to God, neither in their straits nor in their deliverances, neither in their wants nor in their fullness, but continually tempted and provoked him with their murmurings and unbelief. עם תֹּעֵי לֵבָב הֵם, “Populus errantes corde,” or “errantium corde;” that is, “populus vecors,” — “ a foolish, unteachable people.” תָּעָה is most usually “so to err as to wander out of the way:” Isaiah 53:6; Genesis 37:15; Proverbs 7:25. And in Hiphil, it is “to cause to err or wander,” “to seduce,” “to draw aside:” Hosea 4:12; Isaiah 19:13. And it is properly rendered by πλανάω and πλανάομαι, which have both a neuter and active signification, — “ to err,” “to wander,” and “to seduce” or “draw aside :” whence πλάνος is “erro,” “vagabundus,” “a wanderer,” “a vagabond;” and also “deceptor,” “seductor,” “impostor,” “a seducer,” “a deceiver,” or “impostor.” In both which senses the Jews blasphemously applied it unto our Lord Jesus Christ, Matthew 27:63. The words, then, denote not a speculative error of the mind, a mistake or misapprehension of what was proposed unto them, — in which sense the terms of error and erring are most commonly used, — but a practical aberration or wandering by choice from the way of obedience made known unto them; and therefore they are said “to err in their heart,” τῇ καρδίᾳ. For though that be commonly taken in the Scripture for the entire principle of moral operations, and so compriseth the mind and understanding, yet when an immediate respect is had unto duties and sins, it hath an especial regard to the affections and desires of the heart; so that to “err in heart,” is, “through the seductions and impulsions of corrupt affections, to have the mind and judgment corrupted, and then to depart from the ways of obedience.”

αὐτοὶ δὲ οὐκ ἔγνωσαν τὰς ὁδούς μου, — “and they have not known my ways;” וְהֵם לֹא יָרְעוּ דְרָכָי. The apostle renders וְ by δέ, an adversative, “but;” which is frequently used for καὶ, “and,” as it is rendered by ours. Yet an opposition may also be intimated, “They have not known.” It is said before that they “saw the works of God,” which were parts of his “ways;” and his laws were made known unto them. Of these two parts do his ways consist, — the ways of his providence, and the ways of his commands; or the ways wherein he walketh towards us, and the ways wherein he would have us walk towards him. And yet it is said of this people, that “they knew not his ways.” As we said, therefore, before concerning their error, so we must now say concerning their ignorance, that it is not a simple nescience that is intended, but rather an affected dislike of what they did see and know. It seems to be made up of two parts: — First, They did not so spiritually and practically know the mind, will, and intention of God in them, as thereon to believe in him,’to trust him, and to honor him. This is the knowledge of God which is required in the law and promised in the covenant. Secondly, In that light and knowledge which they had of the ways of God, they liked them not, they approved them not, they delighted not in them. And this is the constant intention of that word to “know,” where the object of it is God, his ways, or his will.

῾ως ὤμοσα ἐν τῇ ὀργῇ μου, — “so I sware in my wrath;” אֲשֶׁראּנִשְׁבַּעְתִּי. The use of the word אֲשֶׁר is so various, as that it may denote either the persons spoken unto or the reason of the things spoken. The Vulgar Latin in some copies reads in this plate, “quibus,” “to whom,” as though it had taken ὡς for οἷς, but commonly, “sicut;” ὡς is often put for ὥστε, “quapropter,” “so that.” So Beza, “whereupon,” “for which cause” or “reason,” — the consideration of the state, condition, and multiplied miscarriages of that people that came out of Egypt.

“I sware.” Of the oath of God and his swearing we must deal afterwards expressly. The declared unalterable purpose of God about the dying of that people in the wilderness, expressed in the way of an oath, is that which is intended. And God is said to swear in his wrath, because he declared that purpose of his under a particular provocation. The whole matter is recorded, Numbers 14:21-23, and Numbers 14:28-35,

“But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD. Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt, and in the wilderness, have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice; surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it... Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the LORD, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you: your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me, doubtless ye shall not come into the land concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun. But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised. But as for you, your carcasses, they shall fall in this wilderness. And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcasses be wasted in the wilderness. After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, (each day for a year,) shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years; and ye shall know my breach of promise. I the LORD have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.”

We have here the especial occasion of this swearing of God. The whole fabric of the ark and tabernacle being finished, the worship of God established, the law and rules of their polity being given unto them, and a blessed frame of government in things sacred and civil set up amongst them, their military camp, charge, and order in marching, to avoid emulation and confusion, being disposed, all things seemed to be in, a great readiness for the entrance of the people into the promised land. Whereas- they were but a confused multitude when they came out of Egypt, God had now formed them into a beautiful order both in church and state. This he insists on in his dealings with them, Ezekiel 16. Why should they now stay any longer in that wilderness, which was neither meet to entertain them nor designed for their habitation? Wherefore, to prepare a way for their entrance into Canaan, spies are sent by God’s direction, with excellent instructions, to search out the land, Numbers 13:17-20. Upon their return, the peevish, cowardly, unbelieving multitude, terrified with a false report which they made, fall into an outrageous repining against God and sedition against their ruler.

Hereupon the Lord, wearied as it were with their continued provocations, and especially displeased with their last, whereby they had, what lay in them, frustrated his intentions towards them, threatened to consume the people as one man, Numbers 14:12; but Moses, pleading with him the interest of his own name and glory, prevailed to divert the execution of that commination. And yet so great was this provocation, and so absolutely had the people of that generation discovered themselves to be every way unfit to follow the Lord in that great work, that, to show the greatness of their sin, and the irrevocableness of his purpose, he sware with great indignation concerning them, in manner and form above declared.

εἰ εἰσελεύσονται, — “if they shall enter.” So in the Hebrew, אִםאּיְבֹאוּן, — “if they shall enter.” So, frequently in the place of Numbers from whence the story is taken. The expression is imperfect, and relates to the oath of God wherein he sware by himself. As if he had said, ‘Let me not live,’or ‘not be God, if they enter;’which is the greatest and highest asseveration that so they should not do. And the concealment of the engagement is not, as some suppose, from a πάθος, causing an abruptness of speech, but from the reverence of the person spoken of. The expression is perfectly and absolutely negative. So Mark 8:12, with Matthew 16:4; 1 Samuel 14:44; 1 Kings 20:10.

εἰς τὴν κατάπαυσίν μου, — “into my rest.” The pronoun “my” is taken either efficiently or subjectively. If in the first way, the rest that God would give this people is intended; — ‘They shall not enter into the !and which I promised to give unto Abraham and his seed, as a state of rest, after all their wanderings and peregrinations upon my call and command.’Or it may be expounded subjectively, for the rest of God himself; that is, the place wherein he would fix his worship and therein rest. And this seems to be the proper meaning of the word “my rest;” that is, ‘the place where I will rest, by establishing my worship therein.’Hence this was the solemn word of blessing at the moving of the ark of God, “Arise, O LORD, into thy rest;” so Psalms 132:8, 2 Chronicles 6:41. “A place for the Louis, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob,” Psalms 132:5. So he calls his worship his rest and the place of his rest, Isaiah 11:10; Isaiah 66:1. And the Targumist renders these words, “Into the rest of the house of my sanctuary:” as he speaks elsewhere, “This is my rest for ever;” which place is cited by Rashi on these words. (4)

Hebrews 3:7-11. — Wherefore, as the Holy Ghost saith, To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation, in the wilderness: where your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do always err in their hearts; but my ways they have not known. So sware in my wrath, If they shall enter into my rest.

The exhortation is here pursued which was engaged into at the beginning of the chapter, and which after some diversion is returned unto at the close of the sixth verse. The argument whereby it is confirmed and carried on in these words is taken “ab eventu pernicioso,” from the pernicious event of the alike disobedience in others, which the Hebrews are dehorted from. And this the apostle shows by an eminent instance, or the induction of an example to that purpose. And this was such as those to whom he wrote knew to be so as it was by him reported; which they had especial reason to attend unto and consider, which had formerly been recommended to them, and which was purposely designed to be monitory unto them in their present condition: which things render an example cogent and effectual. Known it was to them, as being recorded in the Scripture, wherewith they were acquainted; and it was likewise of near concernment unto them, so deserving their consideration, inasmuch as it was their own progenitors or forefathers who so miscarried as to be therein proposed unto them for an example of an evil to be avoided. It had also, after the first recording of it in the history of the times wherein it fell out, Numbers 14, been resumed and recommended unto their most diligent consideration, Psalms 95. And, as he afterwards informs them, there was a prophecy infolded, or a typical representation made of their present state and condition, with directions for their wise and safe deportment under it. All these things render the example proper, and the exhortation from it cogent.

Now, whereas the example had been twice recorded, — once materially, where the fact is first expressed, and then formally, as an example, where it is resumed and improved by the psalmist, — our apostle takes it together with its improvement out of the latter place. It lies therefore before us under both considerations, — as a fact recorded by Moses, as an example pressed by the psalmist.

FIRST, We may consider in the words, —

First, The note of inference wherein the apostle engageth the whole unto his purpose, “Wherefore.”

Secondly, The manner of his introduction of this persuasive example, both as to the fact and its former improvement, “As the Holy Ghost saith.”

Thirdly, The manner of its proposition, in way of exhortation; wherein we have, —

First, The general matter of it, which is obedience unto God; expressed, —

1. By a supposition, including a positive assertion of the duty especially intended, “If ye will hear his voice.”

2. By a prohibition or removal of the contrary, “Harden not your hearts.”

Secondly, The time or season of its due performance, “To-day.”

SECONDLY, There is in the words the example itself on which the exhortation is built or founded: and this consists of two parts or branches; —

First, The sin; and,

Secondly, The punishment of the persons spoken of.

First, The sin: on the account whereof there are mentioned, —

1. The persons sinning; they were the “fathers,” the fathers or progenitors of them to whom he wrote; “your fathers,” illustrated by their multitude, — they were a whole “generation.”

2. The quality or nature of their sin, which consisted in two things; —

(1.) Provocation, “As in the provocation;”

(2.) Temptation of God, “And in the day of temptation they tempted me and proved me.”

3. The aggravation of their sin; —

(1.) From the place where it was committed, — it was “in the wilderness;”

(2.) From the means of the contrary which they had to have preserved them from it, — they saw the works of God, “And saw my works;”

(3.) From the duration and continuance of their sinning, and the means of the contrary, “Forty years.”

Secondly, The punishment of their sin is expressed in the pernicious event that ensued, whence the exhortation is taker,; and therein is expressed, —

1. The “causa procatarctica,” or procuring cause, in the sense that God had of their sin: it grieved him, “Wherefore I was grieved with that generation.”

2. The expression that he gave of it, containing a double aggravation of their sin, —

(1.) In its principle, “They did err in their hearts;”

(2.) In their continuance in it, they did so always, “And said, They do always err in their hearts;”

(3.) In its effects, “They did not know his ways.”

3. There is the “causa proegoumena,” or “producing cause” of the punishment mentioned, in the resolution that God took and expressed concerning the persons sinning: which also hath a double aggravation: —

(1.) From the manner of his declaring this resolution; he did it by an oath, “Unto whom I sware:”

(2.) From the frame of his spirit; it was in his wrath, “Unto whom I sware in my wrath.”

(3.) The punishment of the sin itself, expressed negatively, “If they shall enter into my rest;” that is, they shall not do so. And this also hath a double aggravation: —

[1.] From the act denied; they should not “enter,” — not so much as enter:

[2.] From the object; that was the rest of God, — “They shall not enter into my rest.”

We have so particularly insisted on the opening of the words of this paragraph, that we may be the more brief in the ensuing exposition of the design and sense of them; wherein also we shall interpose the observations that are to be improved in our own practice.

FIRST, The illative, “wherefore,” as was first observed, denotes both the deduction of the ensuing exhortation from the preceding discourse, and the application of it unto the particular duty which he enters upon, Hebrews 3:12. “Wherefore;” that is, ‘Seeing the Lord Christ, who is the author of the gospel, is in his legatine or prophetical office preferred far above Moses in the work of the house of God, as being the son and lord over that house as his own, wherein Moses was a servant only, let us consider what duty is incumbent on us, especially how careful and watchful we ought to be that we be not by any means diverted or turned aside from that obedience which he requires, and which on all accounts is due unto him.’This he pursues unto Hebrews 3:11, where the hyperbaton that is in these words is issued.

Obs. 1. No divine truth ought in its delivery to be passed by, without manifesting its use, and endeavoring its improvement unto holiness and obedience.

So soon as the apostle had evinced his proposition concerning the excellency of Christ in his prophetical office, he turns himself unto the application of it unto them that are concerned in it. Divine knowledge is like a practical science; the end of all whose principles and theorems is in their practice; take that away and it is of no use. It is our wisdom and understanding how to live unto God; to that purpose are all the principles, truths, and doctrines of it to be improved. If this be not done in the teaching and learning of it, we fight uncertainly, as men beating the air.

Obs. 2. In times of temptations and trials, arguments and exhortations unto watchfulness against sin and constancy in obedience are to be multiplied in number, and pressed with wisdom, earnestness, and diligence.

Such was the season now with these Hebrews. They were exposed to great trials and temptations: seduction on the one hand by false teachers, and persecution on the other hand by wrathful adversaries, closely beset them. The apostle, therefore, in his dealing with them adds one argument unto another, and pursues them all with pathetical exhortations. Men are often almost unwilling to be under this advantage, or they quickly grow weary of it. Hence our apostle closeth this hortatory epistle with that entreaty, Hebrews 13:22 : “Suffer the word of exhortation.” He was afraid they might have thought themselves overburdened with exhortations. And this befalls men on three accounts: —

1. When they are grieved by their multiplication, as if they proceeded from a jealousy concerning their sincerity and integrity; so was it with Peter, John 21:17.

2. On a confidence of their own strength, which they would not have suspected; as with the same Peter, Matthew 26:33.

3. From a secret inclination lying against the thing exhorted unto, or to the thing dehorted from.

But these are the ordinances of God for our preservation in such a condition; and these our necessities in it do call for. And pregnant instances hereof are given by our apostle, especially in this epistle and in that unto the Galatians, whose condition was the same with that of these Hebrews. Both of them were in danger to be seduced from the simplicity of the gospel by inveterate prejudices and the subtilty of false teachers; both of them were encompassed with dangers, and exposed unto persecutions. He understood their temptations and saw their dangers. And with what wisdom, variety of arguments, expostulations, exhortations, and awakening reproofs, doth he deal with them! what care, tenderness, compassion, and love, do appear in them all! In nothing did the excellency of his spirit more evidence itself, than in his jealousy concerning and tender care for them that were in such a condition. And herein the Lord Christ set him forth for an example unto all those to whom the work of the ministry and dispensation of the gospel should afterwards be committed. In this care and watchfulness lie the very life and soul of their ministry. Where this is wanting, whatever else be done, there is but the carcass, the shadow of it.

This, then, is of excellent use, provided, —

1. That the arguments in it proceeded on be solid and firm (such as in this case are everywhere laid down by our apostle), that our foundation fail us not in our work. Earnest exhortations on feeble principles have more of noise than weight; when there is an aim of reaching men’s affections, without possessing their minds with the due reasons of the things treated about, it proves mostly evanid, and that justly.

2. That the exhortation itself be grave and weighty, duty ought to be clothed with words of wisdom, such as may not, by their weakness, unfitness, uncomeliness, betray the matter intended, and expose it unto contempt or scorn. Hence the apostle requires a singular ability unto the duty of admonition, Romans 15:14, “Filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.”

3. That the love, care, and compassion of them who manage such exhortations and admonitions be in them made to appear. Prejudices are the bane and ruin of mutual warnings. And these nothing can remove but a demonstration of love, tenderness, and compassion, acting themselves in them. Morose, peevish, wrathful admonitions, as they bring guilt upon the admonisher, so they seldom free the admonished from any. This course, therefore, the condition of them that are tempted, — who are never in more danger than when they find not a necessity of frequent warnings and exhortations, — and the duty of those who watch for the good of the souls of men, require to be diligently attended unto.

SECONDLY, The manner of the introduction of the persuasive example proposed is to be considered, “As saith the Holy Ghost.” The words are the words of the psalmist, but are here ascribed unto the Holy Ghost. Our apostle, as other divine writers of the New Testament, useth his liberty in this matter. Sometimes they ascribe the words they cite out of the Old Testament unto the penmen of them; as to Moses, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the like, — Luke 24:27; Matthew 2:17; Matthew 4:14; John 12:41; Acts 2:25, sometimes to the books wherein they are written; as, “It is written in the book of Psalms,” Acts 1:20, and sometimes they ascribe them unto the principal author, namely, the Holy Ghost, as in this place. Now, as they used their liberty therein, so it is not to be supposed that they fixed on any particular expression without some especial reason for it. And the ascribing of the words of the psalmist in this place immediately unto the Holy Ghost, by whom he was inspired and acted, seems to have been to mind the Hebrews directly of his authority. His intention from the words was, to press a practical duty upon them. In reference unto such duties the mind ought to be immediately inflamed by the authority of him that requires it. ‘Consider,’saith he, ‘that these are the words of the Holy Ghost’(that is, of God himself), ‘so that you may submit yourselves to his authority.’Besides, the apostle intends to manifest that those words have respect unto the times of the gospel, and in an especial manner unto that season of it which was then passing over the Hebrews. He therefore minds them that they were given out by the Spirit of prophecy, so that the concernment of the church in all ages must lie in them. “The Holy Ghost saith;” that is, as he spake to them of old in and by David (as it is expressed, Hebrews 4:7), so he continues to speak them unto us in the Scripture, which is not only his word, but his voice, his speaking, living, and powerful voice, for so we may comprise both senses before mentioned.

Obs. 3. Exhortations unto duty ought to be well founded, to be built on a stable foundation, and to be resolved into an authority which may influence the consciences of them to whom they do belong.

Without this they will be weak and enervous, especially if the duties exhorted unto be difficult, burdensome, or any way grievous. Authority is the formal reason of duty. When God gave out his law of commandments, he prefaced it with a signification of his sovereign authority over the people, “I am the LORD thy God.” And this is our duty in giving our exhortations and commands from him. The engagement of his authority in them is to be manifested. “Teach men,” saith our Savior, “to do and observe whatsoever I have commanded,” Matthew 28:20. His commands are to be proposed to them, and his authority in them to be applied unto their souls and consciences. To exhort men in the things of God, and to say, ‘This or that man saith so,’be he the pope or who he will, is of no use or efficacy. That which you are to attend unto is what the Holy Ghost saith, whose authority the souls of men are every way obnoxious unto.

Obs. 4. Whatever was given by inspiration from the Holy Ghost, and is recorded in the Scripture for the use of the church, he continues therein to speak it to us unto this day.

As he lives forever, so he continues to speak forever; that is, whilst his voice or word shall be of use to the church. “As the Holy Ghost saith;” that is, speaks now unto us. And where doth he speak it? In the 95th Psalm; there he says it, or speaks it unto us. Many men have invented several ways to lessen the authority of the Scripture, and few are willing to acknowledge an immediate speaking of God unto them therein. Various pretences are used to sub-duct the consciences of men from a sense of his authority in it. But whatever authority, efficacy, or power the word of God was accompanied withal, whether to evidence itself so to be, or otherwise to affect the minds of men unto obedience, when it was first spoken by the Holy Ghost, the same it retains now it is recorded in Scripture, seeing the same Holy Ghost yet continues to speak therein.

THIRDLY, There is in the words, first, The matter of the exhortation intended, that which it aims at and intends. This in general is obedience unto God, answerable unto the revelation which he makes of himself and his will unto us. And this is, —

1. Expressed in a supposition, including a positive assertion of it, “If ye will hear his voice;” — ‘It is your duty so to do; and this is that which you are exhorted unto.’

(1.) The voice of God is ordinarily the word of his command, the voice or signification of his will; which is the rule of all our duty or obedience.

(2.) In this place, as commonly elsewhere, not the word of command in general is intended, but an especial call or voice of God in reference unto some especial duty at some especial season. Such was the voice of God to the people in the wilderness at the giving of the law, which the people heard, and saw the effects of. Hence is the command translated into the voice of God, in giving out the gospel by the ministry of his Son Jesus Christ. From the former is the occasion of the words taken in the psalm; and to the latter is the application of it made by the apostle.

(3.) The psalmist speaks to the people as if the voice of God were then sounding in their ears. For that which was once the voice of God unto the church (being recorded in the Scripture) continues still to be so; that is, it is not only materially his revealed will and command, but it is accompanied with that special impression of his authority which it was at first attested withal. And on this ground all the miracles wherewith the word of old was confirmed are of the same validity and efficacy towards us as they were towards them that saw them; namely, because of the sacredness of the means whereby they are communicated to us.

This, then, is the object of the duty exhorted unto, the voice of God:

which, as it is used by the apostle, is extended virtually and consequentially to the whole doctrine of the gospel, but with especial respect to the revelation of it by Christ Jesus; as in the psalm it regards the whole doctrine of the law, but with especial regard unto the delivery of it to Moses on mount Sinai. The act exercised about it is hearing, “If ye will hear his voice.” The meaning of this word hath been before explained. It is an act of the whole soul, in understanding, choosing, and resolving to do, the will of God declared by his voice, that is intended. And this further appears from the ensuing charge: “If ye will hear, harden not your hearts;” that is, ‘If you think meet to obey the voice of God, if you will choose so to do, take heed of that which would certainly be a hinderance thereof.’ Thus dealeth the apostle with the Hebrews; and herein teacheth us that, —

Obs. 4. The formal reason of all our obedience consists in its relation to the voice or authority of God.

So, therefore, doth the apostle express it, so is it declared in the whole Scripture. If we do the things that are commanded, but not with respect to the authority of God by whom they are commanded, what we so do is not obedience properly so called. It hath the matter of obedience in it, but the formal reason of it, that which should render it properly so, which is the life and soul of it, it hath not: what is so done is but the carcass of duty, no way acceptable unto God. God is to be regarded as our sovereign Lord and only lawgiver in all that we have to do with him. Hereby are our souls to be influenced unto duty in general, and unto every especial duty in particular. This reason are we to render to ourselves and others of all the acts of our obedience. If it be asked why we do such or such a thing, we answer, Because we must obey the voice of God. And many advantages we have by a constant attendance unto the authority of God in all that we do in his worship and service; for, —

(1.) This will keep us unto the due rule and compass of duty, whilst we are steered in all that we do hereby. We cannot undertake or perform any thing as a duty towards God which is not so, and which, therefore, is rejected by him, where he saith, “Who hath required these things at your hand?” This is no small advantage in the course of our obedience. We see many taking a great deal of pains in the performance of such duties as, being not appointed of God, are neither accepted with him, nor will ever turn unto any good account unto their own souls. Had they kept upon their consciences a due sense of the authority of God, so as to do nothing but with respect thereunto, they might have been freed from their laboring in the fire, where all must perish, Micah 6:6-9. Such are most of the works wherein the Papists boast.

(2.) This, also, will not suffer us to omit anything that God requires of us. Men are apt to divide and choose in the commands of God, to take and leave as it seems good unto them, or as serves their present occasion and condition. But this also is inconsistent with the nature of obedience, allowing the formal reason of it to consist in a due respect unto the voice of God; for this extends to all that is so, and only to what is so. So James informs us that all our obedience respects the authority of the Lawgiver, whence a universality of obedience unto all his commands doth necessarily ensue. Nor doth the nature of any particular sin consist so much in respect to this or that particular precept of the law which is transgressed or violated by it, as in a contempt of the Lawgiver himself, whence every sin becomes a transgression of the law, James 2:9-11.

(3.) This will strengthen and fortify the soul against all dangers, difficulties, and temptations that oppose it in the way of its obedience. The mind that is duly affected with a sense of the authority of God in what it is to do will not be “territa monstris.” It will not be frightened or deterred by any thing that lies in its way. It will have in readiness wherewith to answer all objections, and oppose all contradictions. And this sense of the authority of God requiring our obedience is no less a gracious effect of the Spirit, than are that freedom, and cheerfulness, and alacrity of mind which in these things we receive from him.

Obs. 6. Every thing in the commands of God, relating unto the manner of their giving out and communicating unto us, is to be retained in our minds and considered as present unto us.

The psalmist, “after so long a season,” as the apostle speaks, calls the people to hear the voice of God, as it sounded on mount Sinai at the giving of the law. Not only the law itself, and the authority of God therein, but the manner also of its delivery, by the great and terrible voice of God, is to be regarded, as if God did still continue so to speak unto us. So also is it in respect of the gospel. In the first revelation of it God spake immediately “in the Son;” and a reverence of that speaking of God in Christ, of his voice in and by him, are we continually to maintain in our hearts. So in the dispensation of the gospel he continues yet to speak from heaven, Hebrews 12:25. It is his voice and word unto us no less than it was when in his own person he spake on the earth. And God being thus, both in his commands and the manner of his giving them out, rendered present unto us by faith, we shall receive a great incitation unto obedience thereby.

Obs. 7. Consideration and choice are a stable and permanent foundation of obedience.

The command of God is here proposed unto the people, to their understanding to consider it, to their wills to choose and embrace it: “If ye will hear his voice.” ‘Consider all things, all concerns of this matter; whose command it is, in what manner given, what is the matter of it, and what are its ends, and what is our own concernment in all this.’Men that are engaged into some course of obedience or profession as it were by chance, or by their minds being merely pre-occupated with education or custom, will leave it by chance or a powerful diversion at any time. Those who are only compelled unto it by some pungent, galling convictions, so that they yield obedience not because they like it or choose it, but because they dare not do otherwise, do assuredly lose all respect unto it as their convictions do by any means wear off or decay.

A deliberate choice of the ways of God, upon a due consideration of all their concernments, is that which unchangeably fixeth the soul unto obedience. For the strongest obligations that are unto it ought to be in our own wills. And it is the most eminent effect of the grace of Christ, to make his people willing in the day of his power; nor is any other obedience acceptable with God, Romans 12:1.

2. The apostle carries on and enforceth his exhortation unto obedience, in the words of the psalmist, by a caution against or prohibition of the contrary, or that which would utterly prevent it, as having done so formerly in others: “Harden not your hearts.” To clear his intention herein, we must inquire, —

(1.) ‘What is intended by “heart;” and,

(2.) What by the “hardening” of it.

(1.) The heart in the Scripture, spoken of in reference unto moral obedience, doth not constantly denote any one especial faculty of the soul; but sometimes one, sometimes another, is intended and expressed thereby. What is peculiarly designed, the subject-matter treated of and the adjuncts of the word will discover. Thus, sometimes the heart is said to be “wise,” “understanding,” to “devise,” to be “filled with counsel;” and, on the other side, to be “ignorant,” “dark,” “foolish,” and the like; — in all which places it is evident that the mind, the τὸ ἠγεμονικόν, the guiding, conducting, reasoning faculty is intended. Sometimes it is said to be “soft,” “tender,” “humble,” “melting;” and, on the other side, “hard,” “stubborn,” “obstinate,” and the like; — wherein principal regard is had to the will and affections. The word, therefore, is that whereby the principle of all our moral actions, and the respective influence of all the faculties of our souls into them, are expressed.

(2.) By the sense of the object is the meaning of the act prohibited to be regulated: “Harden not.” The expression is metaphorical, and it signifies the unfitness and resistency of any thing to receive a due impression from that which is applied unto it; as wax when it is hard will not receive an impression from the seal that is set unto it, nor mortar from the trowel. The application that is made in the matter of obedience unto the souls of men is by the Spirit of God, in his commands, promises, and threatenings; that is, his voice, the whole revelation of his mind and will. And when a due impression is not made hereby on the soul, to work it to an answerableness in its principles and operations thereunto, men are said to resist the Spirit, Acts 7:51; that is, to disappoint the end of those means which he makes use of in his application to them. By what ways or means soever this is done, men are thereby said to harden their hearts. Prejudices, false principles, ignorance, darkness and deceit in the mind, obstinacy and stubbornness in the will, corruption and cleaving unto earthly and sensual objects in the affections, all concur in this evil. Hence in the application of this example, Acts 7:13, the apostle exhorts the Hebrews to take heed that they be not “hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” Now, deceit firstly and principally respects the mind, and therein consists the beginning and entrance into the sin of hardening the heart. A brief consideration of the condition of the people in the wilderness upon whom this evil is charged, will give much light into the nature of the sin that here comes under prohibition. What were the dealings of God with them is generally known, and we have elsewhere declared. As he gave them instruction from heaven, in the revelation and delivery of the law, and intrusted them with the singular benefit of the erection of his worship amongst them, so he afforded them all sorts of mercies, protections, deliverances, provision, and guidance; as also made them sensible of his severity and holiness, in great and terrible judgments. All these, at least the most part of them, were also given out unto them in a marvelous and amazing manner. The end of all these dispensations was to teach them his will, to bring them to hearken to his voice, to obey his commands, that it might be well with them and theirs, In this state and condition sundry things are recorded of them; as, —

(1.) That they were dull, stupid, and slow of heart in considering the ways, kindness, and works of God. They set not their hearts to them to weigh and ponder them, Deuteronomy 32:28-29.

(2.) What they did observe and were moved at (as such was the astonishing greatness of some of the works of God amongst them, such the overpowering obligations of many of his dealings with them, that they could not but let in some present transient sense of them upon their minds), yet they soon forgot them and regarded them not, Psalms 78:11-12.

(3.) That their affections were so violently set upon earthly, sensual, perishing things, that in comparison of them they despised all the promises and threatenings of God, resolving to pursue their own hearts’lusts whatever might become of them in this world and to eternity, Psalms 78:18-19. All which are manifest in the whole story of their ways and doings, By this means their minds and spirits were brought into such a frame and condition, that as they did not, so they could not hearken to the voice of God, or yield obedience unto him: they became

“a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not steadfast with God,” Psalms 78:8.

For by these ways and degrees of sin, they contracted a habit of obstinacy, perverseness, and uncircumcision of heart, — neither did the Lord, in his sovereign pleasure, see good by his effectual grace to circumcise the hearts of the persons of that generation, that they might fear and serve him, — whereby they came to be hardened unto final unbelief and impenitency. It appears, then, that unto this sinful hardening of the heart, which the people in the wilderness were guilty of, and which the apostle here warns the Hebrews to avoid, there are three things that do concur: —

(1.) The mind’s sinful inadvertency and neglect, in not taking due notice of the ways and means whereby God calls any unto faith and obedience.

(2.) A sinful forgetfulness and casting out of the heart and mind such convictions as God, by his word and works, his mercies and judgments, deliverances and afflictions, at any time is pleased to cast into them and fasten upon them.

(3.) An obstinate cleaving of the affections unto carnal and sensual objects, practically preferring them above the motives unto obedience that God proposeth to us. Where these things are, the hearts of men are so hardened that in an ordinary way they cannot hearken unto the voice of God. We may hence also take some observations for our instruction.

Obs. 8. Such is the nature, efficacy, and power of the voice or word of God, that men cannot withstand or resist it, without a sinful hardening of themselves against it.

There is a natural hardness in all men before they are dealt withal by the word, or this spiritual hardness is in them by nature. Hardness is an adjunct of that condition, or the corruption of nature, as is darkness, blindness, deadness, and the like; or it is a result or consequent of them. Men being dark and blind, and dead in trespasses and sins, have thence a natural hardness, an unfitness to receive impressions of a contrary kind, and a resistency thereunto. And this frame may be increased and corroborated in men by various vicious and prejudicate habits of mind, contracted by custom, example, education, and the practice of sin. All this may be in men antecedent unto the dispensation or preaching of the word unto them. Now unto the removal or taking away of this hardness, is the voice or the word of God in the dispensation of it designed. It is the instrument and means which God useth unto that end. It is not, I confess, of itself absolutely considered, without the influencing operation of the Spirit of grace, able to produce this effect. But it is able to do it in its own kind and place; and is thence said to be “able to save our souls,” James 1:21;

“able to build us up, and to give us an inheritance among all them which are sanctified,” Acts 20:32;

being also that “immortal seed” whereby we are begotten unto God, 1 Peter 1:23. By this means doth God take away that rural darkness or blindness of men;

“opening the eyes of the blind, turning them from darkness to light,” Acts 26:18;

“shining in their hearts, to give them the knowledge of his glory in the face of Jesus Christ,” 2 Corinthians 4:6;

as also “quickening them who were dead in trespasses and sins;” and thereby he removes that hardness which is a consequent of these things. And God doth not apply a means to any end which is unsuited to it or insufficient for it. There is therefore usually such a concomitancy of the Spirit with every dispensation of the word of God that is according to his mind and will, as is able and sufficient to remove that hardness which is naturally upon the hearts of men.

Everyone, therefore, to whom the word is duly revealed, who is not converted unto God, doth voluntarily oppose his own obstinacy unto its efficacy and operation. Here lies the stop to the progress of the word in its work upon the souls of men. It stays not unless it meets with an actual obstinacy in their wills, refusing, rejecting, and resisting of it. And God, in sending of it, doth accompany his word with that power which is meet to help and save them in the state and condition wherein it finds them. If they will add new obstinacy and hardness to their minds and hearts, if they will fortify themselves against the word with prejudices and dislike, if they will resist its work through a love to their lusts and corrupt affections, God may justly leave them to perish, and to be filled with the fruit of their own ways. And this state of things is variously expressed in the Scripture. As, —

(1.) By God’s willingness for the salvation of those unto whom he grants his word as the means of their conversion, Ezekiel 18:23; Ezekiel 33:11; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:4.

(2.) By his expostulations with them that reject his word, casting all the cause of their destruction upon themselves, Matthew 23:34. Now, as these things cannot denote an intention in God for their conversion which should be frustrated, which were to ascribe weakness and changeableness unto him; nor can they signify an exercise towards them of that effectual grace whereby the elect are really converted unto God, which would evert the whole nature of effectual grace, and subject it to the corrupt wills of men; so they express more than a mere proposal of the outward means, which men are not able savingly to receive and improve. There is this also in them, that God gives such an efficacy unto these means as that their operation doth proceed on the minds and souls of men in their natural condition, until, by some new acts o£ their wills, they harden themselves against them. And,

(3.) So the gospel is proposed to the wills of men, Isaiah 55:1, Revelation 22:17.

Hence it is that the miscarriage of men under the dispensation of the word, is still charged upon some positive actings of their wills in opposition unto it, Isaiah 30:15, Matthew 23:37, John 3:19; John 5:40. They perish not, they defeat not the end of the word towards themselves, by a mere abode and continuance in the state wherein the word finds them, but by rejecting the counsel of God made known to them for their healing and recovery, Luke 7:30.

Obs. 9. Many previous sins make way for the great sin of finally rejecting the voice or word of God.

The not hearing the voice of God, which is here reproved, is that which is final, which absolutely cuts men off from entering into the rest of God. Unto this men come not without having their hearts hardened by depraved lusts and affections. And that it is their nature so to do shall be afterwards declared. Here we only respect the connection of the things spoken of. Hardening of the heart goes before final impenitency and infidelity, as the means and cause of it. Things do not ordinarily come to an immediate issue between God and them to whom the word is preached. I say ordinarily, because God may immediately cut off any person upon the first refused tender of the gospel; and it may be he deals so with many, but ordinarily he exerciseth much patience towards men in this condition. He finds them in a state of nature; that is, of enmity against him. In this state he offers them terms of peace, and waits thereon, during the season of his good pleasure, to see what the event will be. Many in the meantime attend to their lusts and temptations, and so contract an obdurate senselessness upon their hearts and minds; which, fortifying them against the calls of God, prepares them for final impenitency. And this is the first thing that is considerable, in the general matter of the exhortation in hand. Secondly, The time and season for the performance of the duty exhorted unto is expressed, — “ To-day.” “To-day if ye will hear his voice.” The various respects of the limitation of the season of this duty have been spoken to in the opening of the words. The moral sense of it is no more but the present and proper season of any duty; which what is required unto, in this case of yielding obedience to the voice of God, shall be afterwards declared. And in this sense the word is generally used in all authors and languages. So is הַיּוֹם frequently in the Hebrew in other places, as in this. And a proper season they called יוֹם טוֹב, “a good day,” ‘a meet season,’

1 Samuel 25:8. It may be only a day of feast is there intended, which they called יוֹם טוֹב, “a good day,” ‘a day of mirth and refreshment,’ Leviticus 23. And so it is commonly used by the rabbins, especially for the feast which the high priest made his brethren after the day of expiation; for on that day they were obliged to many observations, under the penalty of excision. This begat fear and terror in them, and was part of their yoke of bondage. Wherefore when that service was over, and they found themselves safe, not smitten by the hand of God, they kept יוֹם טוֹב, “a good day,” whereon they invited unto a feast all the priests that ministered. But most frequently they so express a present opportunity or season. So the Greeks use σήμερον, as in Anacreon, —

σήμερον μέλει μοι τὸ δὲ αὔριον τίς οἷδε; —

“My care is for today” (the present season); “who knows to-morrow” (or the time to come)?

To the same purpose are ἡμέρα and αὔριον, used in the gospel, Matthew 6:34 : ΄ὴ ου῏ν μεριμνήσητε εἰς τὴν αὕριον· ἡ γὰρ αὔριον μεριμνήσει τὰ ἑαυτῆς· ἀρχετόν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἡ κακία αὐτῆς· — “Take no care-for the morrow” (things future and unknown): “the morrow shall take care for the things of itself” (provision shall be made for things future according as they fall out). “Sufficient unto the day” (the present time and season) “is the evil thereof.” To the same purpose do they use “hodie” in the Latin tongue, as in these common sayings, —

“Sera nimis vita est crastina, viv’hodie:”

And, —

“Qui non est hodie, eras minus aptus erit;”

with many other sayings of the like importance. This, then, is the sense and meaning of the word absolutely considered. The apostle exhorts the Hebrews, in the words of the psalmist, to make use of the present season, by the use of means, for the furtherance of their faith and obedience, that they may be preserved from hardness of heart and final unbelief. And what arguments unto duty are suggested from a present season shall afterwards be considered. To enforce this exhortation, the apostle minds them that there is in the words of the psalmist, —

1. A retrospect unto a monitory example. For others there were who had their day also, their season. This they improved not, they answered it not, nor filled it up with the duty that it was designed unto; and therefore the sad event befell them mentioned in the text. Hence doth he enforce his exhortation: ‘It is now to-day with you, it was once to-day with them of old; but you see what a dark, sad evening befell them in the close of their day. Take heed lest it be so with you also.’

2. A respect unto the day enjoyed in the time of the psalmist, which completed the type; of which before. And yet further; — there was,

3. More than a mere example intended by the psalmist. A prophecy also of the times of the gospel was included in the words, as our apostle declares. in the next chapter. Such a season as befell the Jews at the giving of the law, is prefigured to happen to them at the giving of the gospel The law being given on mount Sinai, the church of the Hebrews who came out of Egypt had their day, their time and season for the expressing of their obedience thereunto, whereon their entrance into Canaan did depend. This was their day, wherein they were tried whether they would hearken unto the voice of God or no; namely, the space of thirty-eight or forty years in the wilderness. The gospel was now delivered from mount Sion. And the church of the Hebrews, to whom the word of it first came, had their peculiar day, prefigured in the day after the giving of the law enjoyed by their forefathers. And it was to be but a day, but one especial season, as theirs was. And a trying season it was to be, — whether in the limited space of it they would obey the voice of God or no. And this especial day continued for the space of thirty-eight or forty years, — from the preaching of the gospel by our Lord Jesus Christ, and his death, unto the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus; wherein the greatest part of the people fell, after the same example of unbelief with their forefathers, and entered not into the rest of God. This was the day and the season that was upon the Hebrews at this time, which the apostle exhorts them to the use and improvement of. σήμερον, then, or to-day, signifies in general a present season, which men are not long to be intrusted with; and it hath a triple respect, limitation, or application: —

1. Unto the season enjoyed by the people in the wilderness, who neglected it.

2. Unto the persons spoken unto in the psalmist typically, who were exhorted to use it.

3. Unto the present Hebrews, whose gospel day was therein foretold and prefigured. In all which we are instructed unto the due use of a present season.

Obs. 10. Old Testament examples are New Testament instructions.

Our apostle elsewhere, reckoning sundry instances of things that fell out amongst the people of old, affirms of them ταῦτα δὲ πάντα τύποι συνέβαινον ἐκείνοις, 1 Corinthians 10:1; “All these things befell them types.” The Jews have a saying, כל מה שאירע אבות סימן לבנים; — “That which happeneth unto the father is a sign or example unto the children.” In general, and in the order of all things, “Discipulus est prioris posterior dies;” — “The following day is to learn of the former.” Experience is of the greatest advantage for wisdom. But there is more in this matter. The will and appointment of God are in it. From thence, that all the times of the old testament, and what fell out in them, are instructive of the times and days of the new, not only the words, doctrines, and prophecies that were then given out, but the actions, doings, and sufferings of the people which then fell out, are to the same purpose. There is more in it than the general use of old records and histories of times past, which yet are of excellent use unto a wise consideration in things moral and political. This many have made it their work to manifest and demonstrate. The sum of all is comprised in those excellent words of the great Roman historian concerning his own work, [Liv., Pref.]: —

“Ad illa mihi acriter pro se quisque intendat animum, quae vita, qui mores fuerint: per quos viros, quibusque artibus, domi militiaeque, et partum et auctum imperium sit. Labente deinde paullatim disciplina, velut desidentes primo mores sequatur animo; deinde ut magis magisque lapsi sint; turn ire coeperint praecipites: donec ad haec tempora, quibus nec vitia nostra, nec remedia pati possumus, perventum est. Hoc illud est praecipue in cognitione rerum salubre ac frugiferum; omnis to exempli documenta in illustri posita monumento intueri: inde tibi quod imitere capias; inde, foedum inceptu, foedum exitu, quod rites;” —

“Hereunto” (in reading this history) “let every one diligently attend, to consider who were the men, what was their life and manners, by what means and arts this empire was both erected and increased. And then, moreover, how good discipline insensibly decaying was attended with manners also differing from the former; which in process of time increasing, rushed all things at length headlong into these times of ours, wherein we can endure neither our vices nor their remedies, This is that which, in the knowledge of past affairs, is both wholesome and fruitful, — that we have an illustrious monument of all sorts of examples, from whence you may take what you ought to imitate, and know also, by the consideration of actions dishonest in their undertaking and miserable in the event, what you ought to avoid.”

And if this use may be made of human stories, written by men wise and prudent, though in many things ignorant, partial, factious, as most historians have been, unable in many things to judge of actions whether they were really good or evil, praiseworthy or to be condemned, and in all things of the intentions with which and the ends for which they were done; how much more benefit may be obtained from the consideration of those records of times past, which as they were delivered unto us by persons divinely preserved from all error and mistake in their writings, so they deliver the judgment of God himself, to whom all intentions and ends are open and naked, concerning the actions which they do report! Besides, the design of human story is but to direct the minds of men in things just and honest with reference unto political society and the good of community in this world, with respect whereunto alone it judgeth of the actions of men and their events; but all things in the Scriptures of the Old Testament are directed unto a higher end, even the pleasing of God and the eternal fruition of him. They are therefore, with the examples recorded in them, of singular and peculiar use as materially considered. But this is not all. The things contained in them were all of them designed of God for our instruction, and yet do continue as an especial way of teaching. The things done of old were, as Justin Martyr speaks, προκηρύγματα τῶν κατὰ χριστοῦ, — “foredeclarations of the things of Christ.” And Tertullian, to the same purpose, “Scimus ut vocibus, ira rebus prophetatum;” — “Prophecy or prediction consisted in things as well as words.” And Chrysostom, Serm. ii., de Jejun., distinguisheth between prophecy by speech or words, and prophecy by examples or actions.

Our apostle expressly treateth of this subject, 1 Corinthians 10. Considering the state of the people, in their deliverance from Egypt and abode in the wilderness, he refers the things relating unto them to two heads; —

1. God’s miraculous works towards them, and marvellous dealings with them;

2. Their sins and miscarriages, with the punishments that befell them. Having mentioned those of the first sort, he adds, ταῦτα δὲ τύποι ἠμῶν ἐγενήθησαν, — “Now these were all our examples,” 1 Corinthians 10:6, — types representing God’s spiritual dealing with us. And having reckoned up the other, he closeth his report of them with ταῦτα δὲ πάντα τύποι συνέβαινον ἐκείνοις, — ‘They befell them, that God in them might represent unto us what we are to expect, if we sin and transgress in like manner.’They and their actions were our types. τύπος, “a type,” hath many significations. In this use of it, it signifies a rude and imperfect expression of any thing, in order to a full, clear, and exact declaration of it. So Aristotle useth παχυλῶς καὶ ὠς ἐν τύπῳ in opposition to ἀκριβῶς διορίζειν, — a general and imperfect description, to an exact distinction. Thus they were our types, in that the matter of our faith, obedience, rewards, and punishments, were delineated aforehand in them.

Now, these types or examples were of three sorts: —

1. Such as were directly instituted and appointed for this end, that they should signify and represent something in particular in the Lord Christ and his kingdom. It is true that God did not institute any thing among the people of old but what had its present use and service amongst them; but their present use did not comprehend their principal end. And herein do types and sacraments differ. Our sacraments have no use but that with respect unto their spiritual end and signification. We do not baptize any to wash the body, nor give them the supper of the Lord to nourish it. But types had their use in temporal things, as well as their signification of things spiritual. So the sacrifices served for the freeing of the people from the sentence of the law as it was the rule of their polity or civil government, as well as to prefigure the sacrifice of the body of Christ.

Now those types which had a solemn, direct, stated institution, were materially either persons, as vested with some certain offices in the church, or things.

(1.) Persons. So the Lord raised up, designed, and appointed Moses, Aaron, Joshua, David, Solomon, and others, to typify and represent the Lord Christ unto the church. And they are to be considered in a threefold capacity: —

[1.] Merely personal, as those individual men; unto which concernment all their moral good and evil did belong. In this sense what they did or acted had no respect unto Christ, nor is otherwise to be considered but as the examples of all other men recorded in the Scriptures.

[2.] As to the offices they bare in the church and among the people, as they were prophets, captains, kings, or priests. In this respect they had their present use in the worship of God and government of that people according to the law. But herein,

[3.] In the discharge of their offices and present duties, they were designed of God to represent in a way of prefiguration the Lord Christ and his offices, who was to come. They were a transcript out of the divine idea in the mind and will of God, concerning the all-fullness of power and grace that was to be in Christ, expressed by parcels and obscurely in them, so as by reason of their imperfection they were capable.

(2.) These types consisted in things, such as were the sacrifices and other institutions of worship among the people. That this was the design and end of the whole Mosaical divine service we shall manifest in our progress. This, therefore, is not the place to insist particularly upon them.

2. There were such things and actions as had only a providential ordination to that purpose, — things that occasionally fell out, and so were not capable of a solemn institution, but were as to their events so guided by the providence of God as that they might prefigure and represent somewhat that was afterwards to come to pass. For instance, Jeremiah 31:15, sets out the lamentation of Rachel, — that is, the women of the tribe of Benjamin, upon the captivity of the land: “A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping for her children, refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not..” It is evident from Jeremiah 40:1, that after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, Nebuzaradan gathered the people together that were to go into captivity at Ramah. There the women, considering how many of their children were slain, and the rest now to be carried away, brake out into woeful and unspeakable lamentation. And this was ordered, in the providence of God, to prefigure the sorrow of the women of Bethlehem upon the destruction of their children by Herod, when he sought the life of our Savior; as the words are applied, Matthew 2:17-18. And we may distinguish things of this kind into two sorts, —

(1.) Such as have received a particular application unto the things of the new testament, or unto spiritual things belonging to the grace and kingdom of Christ, by the Holy Ghost himself in the writings of the Gospel. Thus, the whole business of Rebekah’s conceiving Jacob and Esau, their birth, the oracle of God concerning them, the preference of one above the other, is declared by our apostle to have been ordained in the providence of God to teach his sovereignty in choosing and rejecting whom he pleaseth, Romans 9. So he treateth at large concerning what befell that people in the wilderness, making application of it to the churches of the gospel, 1 Corinthians 10; and other instances of the like kind may be insisted on, almost innumerable.

(2.) This infallible application of one thing and season unto another, extends not unto the least part of those teaching examples which are recorded in the Old Testament. Many other things were ordained in the providence of God to be instructive unto us, and may, by the example of the apostles, be in like manner applied; for concerning them all we have this general rule, that they were ordained and ordered in the providence of God for this end, that they might be examples, documents, and means of instruction unto us. Again, we are succeeded into the same place in the covenant unto them who were originally concerned in them, and so may expect answerable dispensations of God towards ourselves; and they were all written for our sakes.

3. There are things that fell out of old which are meet to illustrate present things, from a proportion or similitude between them. And thus where a place of Scripture directly treats of one thing, it may, in the interpretation of it, be applied to illustrate another which hath some likeness unto it. These expositions the Jews call מדרשים, and say they are made משל כדר, “parabolical” or “mystical;” wherein their masters abound. We call them allegories; so doth our apostle expressly, Galatians 4:21-26. Having declared how the two covenants, the legal and evangelical, were represented by the two wives of Abraham, Hagar and Sarah; and the two sorts of people, even those that sought for righteousness by the law and believers, by their children, Ishmael and Isaac; he adds that these things are an allegory. Chrysostom supposeth that Paul useth that expression, of an allegory, in a large sense, for any type or figure, seeing the things he mentioneth were express types the one of the other. But the truth is, he doth not call the things themselves an allegory, for they had a reality, the story of them was true; but the exposition and application which he makes of the Scripture in that place is allegorical, — that is, what was spoken of one thing he expounds of another, because of their proportion one to another, or the similitude between them. Now this doth not arise hence, that the same place of Scripture, or the same words in any piece, have a diverse sense, a literal sense and that which is mystical or allegorical; for the words which have not one determinate sense have no sense at all: but the things mentioned in any place holding a proportion unto other things, there being a likeness between them, the words whereby the one are expressed are applied unto the other.

Now, in the using of these allegorical expositions or applications of things in one place unto another, sundry things are wisely and diligently to be considered; as, —

1. That there be a due proportion in general between the things that are one of them as it were substituted in the room of another. Forced, strained allegories from the Scripture are a great abuse of the word. We have had some who have wrested the Scripture unto monstrous allegories, corrupting the whole truth of the literal sense. This was the way of Origen of old in many of his expositions; and some of late have taken much liberty in the like proceeding. Take an instance in that of the prophet Hosea, Hosea 11:1, “Out of Egypt have I called my son.” The words are directly spoken of the people of Israel, as the passage foregoing evinceth: “When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.” But these words are applied by the evangelist unto the Lord Christ, Matthew 2:15; and that because of the just proportion that was between God’s dealing with that people and with him, after he was carried into Egypt.

2. That there be a destined signification in them. That is, although the words are firstly and principally spoken of one thing, yet the Holy Ghost intended to signify and teach that whereunto they are applied. An intention of the application is included in them. Thus these words of the prophet, “Out of Egypt have I called my son,” did firstly and properly express God’s dealing with the people of Israel; but there was also an intention included in them of shadowing out his future dealing with his only Son, Christ Jesus. The discovery hereof is a matter of great skill and wisdom; and great sobriety is to be used in such applications and allusions.

3. That the first, original sense of the words be sacredly observed. Some will not allow the words of Scripture their first, natural sense, but pretend that their allegories are directly intended in them; which is to make their expositions poisonous and wicked.

I have added these things because I find many very ready to allegorize upon the Scripture without any due consideration of the analogy of faith, or the proportion of things compared one to other, or any regard to the first, genuine sense of the words which they make use of. This is plainly to corrupt the word of God; and however they who make use of such perverted allusions of things may please the fancies of some persons, they render themselves contemptible to the judicious.

But in general these things are so. All things in the Old Testament, both what was spoken and what was done, have an especial intention towards the Lord Christ and the gospel; and therefore in several ways we may receive instruction from them. As their institutions are our instructions more than theirs, we see more of the mind of God in them than they did; so their mercies are our encouragements, and their punishments our examples. And this proceedeth, —

1. From the way that God, in infinite wisdom, had allotted unto the opening and unfolding of the mystery of his love, and the dispensation of the covenant of grace. The way, we know, whereby God was pleased to manifest the counsels of his will in this matter was gradual. The principal degrees and steps of his procedure herein we have declared on the first verse of this epistle. The light of it still increased, from its dawning in the first promise, through all new revelations, prophecies, promises, institutions of worship, until the fullness of time came and all things were completed in Christ; for God had from of old designed the perfection of all his works towards his church to be in him. In him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge were to be laid up, Colossians 2:3; and all things were to be gathered into a head in him, Ephesians 1:10. In him God designed to give out the express image of his wisdom, love, and grace, yea, of all the glorious properties of his nature. For as he is in himself, or his divine person, “the image of the invisible God,” Colossians 1:15, “the brightness of glory, and the express image of his person,” Hebrews 1:3, so he was to represent him unto the church; for we have the “knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,” 2 Corinthians 4:6. In him, — that is his person, his office, his work, his church, — God perfectly expressed the eternal idea of his mind concerning the whole effect of his love and grace. From hence he copied out, in various parcels, by prophecies, promises, institutions of worship, actions, miracles, judgments, some partial and obscure representations of what should afterwards be accomplished in the person and kingdom of Christ. Hence these things became types, that is, transcripts from the great idea in the mind of God about Christ and his church, to be at several seasons, in divers instances, accomplished among the people of old, to represent what was afterwards to be completed in him. This the apostle Peter declares 1 Peter 1:9-12,

“Receiving the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls. Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us, they did minister the things which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel.”

The prophets were those who revealed the mind and will of God to the church of old; but the things which they declared, although they had a present use in the church, yet principally they respected the Lord Christ, and the things that afterwards were to come to pass. And herein were they instructed by that Spirit of Christ wherewith they were inspired, namely, that the things they declared, and so the whole work of their prophecy wherein they ministered, did principally belong to the times of the gospel. And therefore are they all for our instruction.

2. This is part of that privilege which God had reserved for that church which was to be planted and erected immediately by his Son. Having reckoned up the faith of the saints under the old testament, what it effected, and what they obtained thereby, the apostle adds, that yet

“God had provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect,” Hebrews 11:40.

Neither themselves nor any thing that befell them was perfect without us. It had not in them its full end nor its full use, being ordained in the counsel of God for our benefit. This privilege did God reserve for the church of the new testament, that as it should enjoy that perfect revelation of his will in Christ which the church of the old testament received not, so what was then revealed had not its perfect end and use until it was brought over to this also.

See hence what use we are to make of the Scriptures of the Old Testament. They are all ours, with all things contained in them. The sins of the people are recorded in them for our warning, their obedience for our example, and God’s dealing with them on the account of the one and the other for our direction and encouragement in believing. We are not to look on any parts of them as bare stories of things that are past, but as things directly and peculiarly ordered, in the wise and holy counsel of God, for our use and advantage. Especial instances we shall meet with many, towards the end of the epistle.

Consider also what is expected from us above them that lived under the old testament. Where much is given much is required. Now we have not only the superadded helps of gospel light, which they were not entrusted with, but also whatever means or advantages they had, they are made over unto us, yea, their very sins and punishments are our instructions. As God in his grace and wisdom hath granted unto us more light and advantage than unto them, so in his righteousness he expects from us more fruits of holiness, unto his praise and glory.

There is yet another observation which the words opened will afford unto us, arising from the season, which the apostle presseth upon their consideration in that word “to-day.” And it is that, —

Obs. 11. Especial seasons of grace for obedience are in an especial manner to be observed and improved. For this end are they given, and are made special, that they may be peculiarly improved.

God doth nothing in vain, least of all in the things of grace, of the gospel of the kingdom of his Son. When he gives an especial day to the husbandman and vineyard, it is for especial work. “To-day, if ye will hear his voice.” We may therefore inquire, first, what is necessary unto such an especial season; and then what is required unto a due observance and improvement of it. And I shall refer all, by a due analogy, unto those especial days respected in the text.

1. For the first, such a day or season consists in a concurrence of sundry things: —

(1.) In a peculiar dispensation of the means of grace; and hereunto two things are required: —

[1.] Some especial effects of providence, of divine wisdom and power making way for it, bringing of it in, or preserving of it in the world. There is, there ever was, a strong opposition at all times against the preaching and dispensation of the gospel. It is that which the gates of hell engage themselves in, although in a work wherein they shall never absolutely prevail, Matthew 16:18. As it was with Christ, so it is with his word. The world combined to keep him from it, or to expel him out of it, Acts 4:25-27. So it dealeth with his gospel and all the concernments of it. By what ways and means, on what various pretences this is done, I need not here declare, as it is generally known. Now when God, by some especial and remarkable acts of his providence, shall powerfully remove, overcome, or any way divert that opposition, and thereby make way for the preaching or dispensation of it, he puts a speciality upon that season. And without this the gospel had never made an entrance upon the kingdom of Satan, nor been entertained in any nation of the world. The case before us gives us an instance. The day mentioned in the text was that which the people enjoyed in the wilderness, when the worship of God was first revealed unto them and established amongst them. By what means this was brought about is summed up in the prophet Isaiah, Isaiah 51:15-16 :

“I am the LORD thy God, that divided the sea, whose waves roared: The LORD of hosts is his name. And I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people.”

The work which God wrought when he brought the people out of Egypt was so great, that it seemed to be the creation of a new world, wherein the heavens were planted, and the foundations of the earth were laid. And what was the end of it, what was the design of God in it? It was all to put his words into the mouths of his people, to erect Zion or a church-state amongst them, to take them into a covenant-relation with himself for his worship. This made that time their special day and season. The like works, for the like purpose, at any time will constitute the like season. When God is pleased to make his arm bare in behalf of the gospel, when his power and wisdom are made conspicuous in various instances for the bringing it unto any place, or the continuance of its preaching against oppositions, contrivances, and attempts for its expulsion or oppression, then doth he give a special day, a season unto them who do enjoy it.

[2.] It consists in an eminent communication of the gifts of the Holy Ghost unto those by whom the mysteries of the gospel are to be dispensed, and that either as to the increase of their number or of their abilities, with readiness unto and diligence in their work. When God thus “gives the word, great is the army of them that publish it,” — המְבַשְּׂוֹת צָבָא רָב, Psalms 68:12. The word is of the feminine gender, and denotes the churches; which, Psalms 68:27 of that psalm, are called מקְהֵלוֹת, which we render “congregations;” that is, churches, in the same gender: “Bless ye God in the congregations,” — בְּמַקְהֵלוֹת, the churches or congregations publishing “the word” or “glad tidings,” as the word signifies And hereof there is צָבָא רָב“a great army :” for the church in its work and order is כּנִּדְגָּלוֹת, as “bannered ones;” that is, כּנּדְגָּלוֹת צְבָאוֹת, as “bannered armies, “armies with banners,” Song of Solomon 6:10. When God “gave the word” (it is a prophecy, of the times of the gospel), “great was the number of מקְהֵלוֹת הַמְבַשְּׂרוֹת, that like armies with banners, not for weapons, but for order and terror to the world, “preached” or “published it.” Such was the day that our apostle called the Hebrews to the consideration of. It was not long after the ascension of Christ when the gifts of the Spirit were poured out on multitudes of all sorts, as was foretold: Acts 2:16-18,

“This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days (saith God), I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: and on my servants, and on my handmaids, I will pour out in those days of my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.”

The extent of the communication of the Spirit at that season is emphatically expressed in these words, “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh.” As the act of pouring denotes abundance, freedom, largeness, plenty, so the object, or “all flesh,” signifies the extent of it, unto all sorts of persons. And you know how great and eminent were the gifts that were communicated unto many in those days; so that this work was every way complete. By this means the churches were many, whose work and duty it is to be στύλοι καὶ ἑδραιώματα τῆς ἀληθείας, 1 Timothy 3:15, “the pillars of the truth,” — that is, to hold it up, and to hold it forth, Philippians 2:16. When, then, there is any such season wherein in any proportion or similitude unto this dispensation, or in a way or manner any thing extraordinary, God is pleased to give or pour out of the gifts of his Spirit upon many, for the declaration and preaching of the word of truth, then doth he constitute such an especial day or season as that we are inquiring after.

(2.) When God is pleased to give out signal providential warnings, to awaken and stir up men unto the consideration of and attendance unto his word and ordinances, this makes such a season to become a special day; for the end of extraordinary providences is to prepare men for the receiving of the word, or to warn them of impendent judgments for the contempt of it. This mark did God put upon the season respected here by the apostle. For unto the mention of the pouring out of the Spirit that of signs and judgments is adjoined: Acts 2:19-20,

“And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke: the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come.”

The things here spoken of were those signs, prodigies, and judgments, which God showed unto and exercised the people of the Jews withal before the destruction of Jerusalem, even those foretold by our Lord Jesus Christ, Matthew 24. And they were all wrought during the time that they enjoyed the dispensation Of the gospel before described. And what was the end of them? It was evidently to put a signal mark and note upon that day and season of grace which was then granted unto that people; for so it is added, Matthew 24:21, “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved,” — that is, whosoever shall make use of these warnings by signs, and wonders, and dreadful representations of approaching indignation and wrath, so as to attend unto the word dispensed by virtue of the plentiful effusion of the Spirit before mentioned, and yield obedience thereunto (that is, make use of the day granted to them), they shall be saved, when others that are negligent, rebellious, and disobedient, shall utterly perish.

(3.) When it is a season of the accomplishment of prophecies and promises for the effecting of some great work of God in and upon the outward state of the church, as to its worship. The day the people had in the wilderness was the time when the great promise given unto Abraham four hundred and thirty years before was to have its typical accomplishment. Hereupon the outward state of the church was wholly to be altered; it was to be gathered from its dispersion in single families, into a national union, and to have new ordinances of worship erected in it. This made it a great day to the church. The day whereunto the application of these things is made by the apostle, was the season wherein God would make that great alteration in the whole worship of the church, by the last revelation of his mind and will in the Son. This was a great day and signal. So also when the time comes of the fulfilling of any especial, prophecy or prediction for the reformation of the church, it constitutes such a season. Something of this nature seems to be expressed, Revelation 14:6-8 :

“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him, for the hour of his judgment is come... And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.”

The time approaching wherein Babylon is to be destroyed, and the church to be redeemed from under her tyranny, as also to be freed from her pollution, and from drinking any more of the cup of her fornication, — which is the greatest change or alteration that the outward state of it is left obnoxious unto in the world, — the everlasting gospel is to be preached with such glory, beauty, and efficacy, as if it were delivered from the midst of heaven; and men will have an especial day of repentance and turning unto God given unto them thereby. And thus is it also at sundry seasons, wherein the Lord Christ deals with his churches in one place or another in a way of “preludium,” or preparation unto what shall ensue in his appointed time amongst them all.

These and the like things do constitute such a special season and day as that we inquire after; and whether such a day be not now in many places, needs no great travail of mind or eminency of understanding to determine.

2. It is declared in the proposition laid down, that such a day, such a season, is diligently to be attended unto and improved. And the reasons or grounds hereof are, —

(1.) Because God expects it. He expects that our applications unto him in a way of obedience should answer his unto us in a way of care and tenderness, — that when he is earnest in his dealings with us, we should be diligent in our observance of him. Every circumstance that he adds unto his ordinary dispensations is to have its weight with us; and in such a day they are many. See Isaiah 5:1, etc.: “My well-beloved hath a vineyard בְּקֶרֶן בֶּןאּשָׁמֶן,” “in an horn of a son of oil” (“ planted in a fat and fruitful soil;” that is, furnished with all possible means to render it fruitful): “and he fenced it” (protected it by his providence from the incursion of enemies), “and gathered out the stones thereof” (removed out of it whatever was noxious and hurtful, — it may be the gods of wood and stone in an especial manner out of the land); “and planted it with the choicest vine” (in its order, ordinances, and institutions of worship), “and built a tower in the midst of it” (that is, for its defense; namely, the strong city of Jerusalem, in the midst of the land, which was built “as a city that is compact together,” all as one great tower, “whither the tribes went up, the tribes of the LORD, unto the testimony of Israel,” Psalms 122:3-4),“and also made a wine-press therein” (the temple and altar, continually running with the blood of sacrifices): “and he looked that it should bring forth grapes.” His expectations answer his care and dispensations towards his church. That is the meaning of the word ויֲקִו, — he “looked,” he “expected.” Expectation properly is of a thing future and uncertain, — so is nothing unto God; being therefore ascribed unto him, it only signifies what is just and equal, and what in such cases ought to be: such a vineyard ought to bring forth grapes answerable to all the acts of God’s care and grace towards it; and we may see in that place what is the end of frustrating such an expectation. Such are the dealings of God with churches and persons in the day we have described, and an expectation of such fruit is it accompanied withal.

(2.) Such a day is the season that is allotted unto us for especial work, for especial duty. Some singular work is the end and design of such a singular season. So the apostle informs us, 2 Peter 3:11 :

“Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness?”

The supposition in the words, concerning the dissolution of all these things, is an intimation of such a day as we have described from one circumstance of it, namely, the impendent judgments of God then threatened to the church and state of the Jews, which was now expiring. And the inference that he makes from that supposition is unto a peculiar holiness and godliness. That this at such a time is intended, is a thing so evident, that he refers it to the judgment of them to whom he wrote.

“What manner of persons ought ye to be?” — ‘Judge in yourselves, and act accordingly.’Great light, great holiness, great reformation, in hearts, houses, churches, are expected and required in such a day. All the advantages of this season are to have their use and improvement, or we lose the end of it. Every thing that concurs to the constitution of such a day hath advantages in it to promote special work in us; and if we answer them not our time for it is irrecoverably lost; which will be bitterness in the end.

(3.) Every such day is a day of great trials. The Lord Christ comes in it with his fan in his hand, to sift and try the corn; to what end is declared, Matthew 3:12 :

“His fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

The “fan” of Christ is his word, in and by the preaching whereof he separates the precious from the vile, the “wheat” from the “chaff.” He comes into his “floor,” the church, where there is a mixture of corn and chaff; he sifts and winnows them by his word and Spirit, so discarding and casting off light, empty, and fruitless professors. Such a day is described by Daniel 12:10 :

“Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.”

“Many,” that is, of the saints, “shall be purified,” — יִתְבָּרְרוּ, “purged” (made clean from such spots, stains, or defilements, as in their affections or conversation they had contracted); “and made white,” — יִתְלַבְּנוּ, (shall be whitened in their profession, — it shall be rendered more eminent, conspicuous, and glorious); “and tried,” — יִצָרְפוּ(as in a furnace, that it may appear what metal they are of). Thus shall it be with believers, so shall they be exercised in their spirits, and so approved; but wicked and false professors shall be discovered, and so far hardened that they shall go on and grow high in their wickedness, unto their utter destruction. So it fell out on the day of his coming in the flesh, and so it was foretold, Malachi 3:1-3. The whole people jointly desired his coming, but when he came few of them could abide it or stand before it. He came to try them and purify them; whereon many of them, being found mere dross, were cast off and rejected. Christ in such a day tries all sorts of persons, whereby some are approved, and some have an end put to their profession, their hypocrisy being discovered. And it therefore concerns us heedfully to regard such a season; for, —

(4.) Unto whom such a day is lost, they also themselves are lost. It is God’s last dealing with them. If this be neglected, if this be despised, he hath done with them. He says unto them in it, “This is the acceptable time, this is the day of salvation.” If this day pass over, night will come wherein men cannot work. So speaks our Savior concerning Jerusalem, which then enjoyed that day, and was utterly losing it: Luke 19:41-42,

“And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.”

Both the things, and words, and manner of expression declare the greatness of the matter in hand. So doth the action of our Savior, — “he wept;” which is but once more recorded of him in the gospel, John 11:35. And the word here used, ἔκλαυσε, denotes a weeping with lamentation. The consideration of what he was speaking unto moved his holy, tender, merciful heart unto the deepest commiseration. He did it also for our example and imitation, that we might know how deplorable and miserable a thing it is for a people, a city, a person, to withstand or lose their day of grace. And the words here used also are of the like importance: “If thou hadst known, even thou.” The reduplication is very emphatical, “Thou, even thou,” — ‘thou ancient city, thou city of David, thou seat of the temple and all the worship of God, thou ancient habitation of the church;’ “if thou hadst known.” And there is a wish or a desire included in the supposition, which otherwise is elliptical, “If thou hadst known,” — ‘O that thou hadst known!’It is sometimes well rendered by “utinam.” And again it is added, “At least in this thy day.” They had enjoyed many lesser days of grace, and many before in the messages and dealings of the prophets, as our Savior minds them in that great parable, Matthew 21:33-36. These they despised, persecuted, and rejected, and so lost the season of their preaching; but they were lesser days, and not decretory of their state and condition. Another day they were to have, which he calls “This their day;” the day so long foretold, and determined by Daniel the prophet, wherein the Son of God was to come, who was now come amongst them. And what did he treat with them about? “The things which belonged unto their peace,” — of repentance and reconciliation unto God, the things which might have given them peace with God, and continued their peace in the world; but they refused these things, neglected their day, and suffered it to pass over them unimproved. What was the issue thereof? God would deal no more with them, the things of their peace shall now be hid from them, and themselves be left unto destruction. For when such a dispensation is lost, when the evening of such a day is come, and the work of it not accomplished, —

[1.] It may be God will bring a wasting destruction upon the persons, church, or people that have despised it. So he dealt with Jerusalem, as it was foretold by our Savior in the place before insisted on, Luke 19:43-44 : ‘The things of thy peace are now over and hid from thee.’What then will follow or ensue? Why, “The days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation;” — ‘Because thou hast not discerned thy day, nor regarded it, hast not answered the mind of God in it, all this shall speedily befall thee,’— as it did accordingly. The same hath been the issue of many famous Christian churches. The very places where they were planted are utterly consumed. Temporal judgments are ofttimes the issue of despised spiritual mercies. This is the language of those providential warnings by signs and prodigies, which ofttimes such a season is accompanied withal. They all proclaim the impendent wrath of God upon the neglect of his gracious call. And with examples hereof are all records, sacred and ecclesiastical, filled.

[2.] God may, and sometimes doth, leave such a people, church, or persons, as have withstood his dealings in a day of grace, in and unto their outward station in the world, and yet hide the things of their peace utterly from them, by a removal of the means of grace. He can leave unto men their kingdoms in this world, and yet take away the kingdom of heaven, and give that unto others. They may dwell still in their houses, but be in the dark, their candlestick and the light of it being consumed. And this hath been the most common issue of such dispensations, which the world groans under at this day. It is that which God threateneth, 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12. Because men would not receive the truth in the love thereof, — that is, because they would not improve the day of the gospel which they enjoyed, — “God sent them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.” And how came it to pass? By removing the sound and sincere preaching of the word, he gave advantage to seducers and false teachers to impose their superstition, idolatry, and heresies upon their credulity. So God punished the neglect and disobedience of the churches of Europe under the papal apostasy. And let us take heed lest this vial of wrath be not yet wholly emptied; or, —

[3.] God may leave unto such persons the outward dispensation of the means of grace, and yet withhold that efficacy of his Spirit which alone can render them useful to the souls of men. Hence the word comes to have a quite contrary effect unto what it hath under the influences of God’s especial grace. God in it then speaks unto a people as is expressed Isaiah 6:9-10 :

“Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.”

‘I have now done with them,’saith God; ‘I have no design or purpose any more to deal with them about their conversion and healing. And therefore, although I will have the preaching of the word as yet continued unto them, yet it shall have no effect upon them, but, through their own unbelief, to blind them and harden them to their destruction.’And for these reasons, amongst others, ought such a day as we have described carefully to be attended unto.

This duty being of so great importance, it may be justly inquired, How may a man, how may a church know that it is such day, such a season of the gospel with them, so as to be suitably stirred up unto the performance of their duty? I answer, They may do so two ways: —

1. From the outward signs of it, as the day is known by the light and heat of the sun, which is the cause thereof. What concurs to such a day was before declared. And in all those things there are signs whereby it may be known. Neglect and ignorance hereof were charged by our Savior on the Jews, and that frequently; so Matthew 16:3 :

“O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky, but can ye not discern the signs of the times?”

How they discerned “the face of the sky” he shows in Matthew 16:2-3; namely, they judged by usual known prognostics what the weather would be in the evening or morning, that so they might accordingly apply themselves unto their occasions. ‘But,’saith he, ‘as God hath planted such signs in things natural, hath so ordered them that one should be a sign and discovery of another, so he hath appointed signs of this day of grace, of the coming of the Messiah, whereby it also may be known. But these,’saith he, ‘ye cannot discern.’ οὐ δύνασθε, “Ye cannot.” But withal he lets them know why they could not. That was because they were hypocrites, and either grossly neglected or despised the means and advantages they had to that purpose. The signs we have before mentioned are such, as being brought at any time to the rule o£ the word, they will reveal the season that they belong unto. And herein consisted the wisdom of those children of Issachar, who had “understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do,” 1 Chronicles 12:32.

2. Such a day or season will manifest itself by its efficacy. When God applies such a concurrence of means, he will make men one way or other sensible of his design and end. The word in such a day will either refine and reform men, or provoke and enrage them. Thus when the witnesses preach, — which is a signal season of light and truth, — they “torment them that dwell on the earth,” Revelation 11:10. If they are not healed, they will be tormented. So it was at the first preaching of the gospel, — some were converted, and the rest were hardened: a signal work passed on them all, and those who dispensed the word became a “sweet savor in them that are saved, and in them that perish.” The consciences of men will discover their times. God will one way or other leave his witness within them. An especial day will make an especial approach unto their hearts. If it make them not better, they will be worse; and this they may find by the search of themselves. God in this dispensation effectually speaks these words unto an evident experience in the minds of men:

“He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still,” Revelation 22:11.

The especial duty incumbent on men in such a day, is in all things to hearken to the voice of God.

We now proceed unto the SECOND part of the words under consideration, comprising the example itself insisted on, and whereon the exhortation itself is founded. And this consists of two general parts: first the sin, and secondly the punishment of the people of old.

First, The sin is contained in these words: “As in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: where your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works, forty years.”

1. The first thing occurring in the words according unto our former distribution of them, relating to the sin mentioned, is the persons of the sinners. They were their “fathers,” the progenitors of them to whom the apostle wrote. And they are in the next verse further described by their multitude, — they were a whole generation, “I was grieved with that generation.”

Who these were was declared before in the exposition of the words, and it is plain from the story who are intended. It was the people that came up out of Egypt with Moses; all of whom that were above twenty years of age at their coming into the wilderness, because of their manifold sins and provocations, died there, Caleb and Joshua only excepted. So the Lord threatened, Numbers 14:26-30,

“And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me. Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the LORD, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you; your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness, and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me, doubtless ye shall not come into the land concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun.”

And so it came to pass; for when the people were numbered again in the plains of Moab, it is said, “Among these there was not a man of them whom Moses and Aaron the priest numbered, when they numbered the children of Israel in the wilderness of Sinai;” that is, besides those two who were excepted by name, Numbers 26:64-65. These were the fathers ofthe present Hebrews; that is, as it is expressed, Jeremiah 11:10, אֲבוֹתָם הָרִאשֹׁנִים, — their “forefathers,” as we render the words; rather their “first fathers,” those whom God first took into the express covenant with himself, for the place hath respect unto that very sin which is here reported: “They are turned back to the iniquity of their first fathers, which refused to hear my words,” who hearkened not unto the voice of God. And this limits the term unto those in the wilderness, seeing the former patriarchs did not refuse to hear the word of God. But they are generally called אֲבוֹתindefinitely, πατέρες, the “fathers,” as others also that followed in succeeding generations; once by our apostle they are termed πρόγονοι, — “ progenitors,” 2 Timothy 1:3. Now the psalmist mentioning (and our apostle from him) the sin of the people in the wilderness, and proposing it with its consequents unto the present Hebrews, calls them their “fathers,” —

(1.) Because that people were exceedingly apt to boast of their fathers, and to raise a confidence in themselves that they must needs receive mercy from God on their account. And they had, indeed, no small privilege in being the posterity of some of those fathers. Our apostle reckons it as one of their chief advantages, Romans 9:4-5 :

“Who are Israelites, to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came.”

It hath a place in the great series of the privileges of that church. And when the church-state is made over to the Gentiles, it is promised her, that instead of these fathers she should have her children, Psalms 45:16, — those that should succeed unto them in holiness and the favor of God. But this people ran into a woeful mistake, which their posterity are hardened in at this day. Their only privilege in this matter was because God had freely and graciously given his promises unto their fathers, and taken them into covenant with himself; and the due consideration hereof tended only to the exaltation of the rich and free grace of God. So Moses expressly declares, Deuteronomy 7:7-8, and elsewhere. But forgetting or despising this, they rested on the honor and righteousness of their fathers, and expected I know not what as due unto them on that account. This vain confidence our Savior frequently rebuked in them, and so did the apostle. And for this reason the psalmist and the apostle, having occasion to mention the sins of the people of old, calls them their “fathers;” minding them that many of them in whom they gloried were sinful provokers of God.

(2.) It is done to mind them of their near concernment in the example proposed, unto them. It is not taken from amongst strangers, but it is what fell out amongst their own progenitors.

(3.) To warn them of their danger. There is a propensity in children to follow the sins of their fathers. Hence some sins prove eminently national in some countries for many generations. The example of parents is apt to infect their children. The Holy Ghost, then, here intimates unto them their proneness to fall into disobedience, by minding them of the miscarriage of their fathers in the same kind. This intimates unto them both their duty and their danger. Again, these fathers are further described by their number. They were a whole “generation;” that is, all the people of that age wherein they were in the wilderness. And this contains a secret aggravation of the sin mentioned, because there was in it a joint conspiracy as it were of all the persons of that age. These are they who were guilty of the sin here reported. And we may observe from this expression and remembrance of them, —

Obs. 12. That the examples of our forefathers are of use and concernment unto us, and objects of our deepest consideration.

God in his dealings with them laid in instruction for their posterity. And when parents do well, when they walk with God, they beat the path of obedience plain for their children; and when they miscarry, God sets their sins as buoys to warn them who come after them of the shelves that they split upon. “Be not as your fathers, a stiff-necked generation,” is a warning that he oft repeats. And it is in the Scripture an eminent part of the commendation or discommendation of any, that they walked in the way of their progenitors. Where any of the good kings of Judah are testified unto for their integrity, this is still one part of the testimony given unto them, that they walked in the way of David their father, in the paths that he had trod before them. And on the other side, it is a brand on many of the wicked kings of Israel, that they walked in the ways of Jeroboam the son of Nebat. Their examples, therefore, are of concernment unto us, —

First, because ofttimes the same kind of temptations are continued unto the children that the fathers were exercised withal. Thus we find in experience that some temptations are peculiar to a nation, some to a family, for sundry generations; which produce peculiar national sins, and family sins, so that at least they are prevalent in them. Hence the apostle chargeth national sins on the Cretians, from the testimony of Epimenides, who had observed them amongst them; —

κρῆτες ἀεὶ ψεῦσται, κακὰ θήρια, γάστερες ἀργαί,

Titus 1:12, “The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.” Lying, dissimulation, cruelty, and sloth, were the sins of that nation from one generation to another, children learning them from the example of their parents. So many families for a long season have been infamous for cruelty, or deceit, or the like. And these hereditary sins have proceeded in part from hereditary temptations: some are inlaid in their natural constitutions, and some are inseparably annexed unto some special course of life and conversation, wherein persons of the same family succeed one another. Now it is a great warning unto men, to consider what sad events have befallen them that went before them by yielding unto those temptations which they themselves are exercised withal.

Again, there is a blessing or a curse that lies secretly hid in the ways of progenitors. There is a revenge for the children of the disobedient unto the third and fourth generation; and a blessing on the posterity of the obedient for a longer continuance. The very heathen acknowledged this by the light of nature. Plato says expressly, εἰς τετάρτην γενεὰν διαβιβάζει τὴν τιμωρίαν, — “ Punishment falls on the fourth generation.” And they had the substance of it from their oracle: —

᾿αλλὰ κακῶς ῤέξασι δίκας τέλος οὐχὶ χρονεστὸν

῎ηδε παραίτατον· εἰ καὶ διὸς ἔκγονοι ει῏εν

κ᾿ αὐτῇς γὰρ κεφαλῇσι, καὶ ἐν σφετεροίσι τεκέσσιν

εἰλείται· καὶ πῆμα δὸμοις, ἐπὶ πήμασι, βαίνει.

So is that saying common in the same case, Iliad. υ 308: —

καὶ παίδων παῖδες, τοί κεν μετόπισθε γένωνται.

The design is what we have asserted, of the traduction of punishment from wicked parents to their posterity. But there are conditions of the avoidance of the curse, and enjoyment of the blessing. When fathers have made themselves obnoxious to the displeasure of God by their sins, let their posterity know that there is an addition of punishment coming upon them, beyond what in an ordinary coupe of providence is due unto themselves, if they continue in the same sins. So God tells Moses, in the matter of the golden calf which Aaron had made, when he had prevailed with him not immediately to destroy the whole people: “Nevertheless,” saith he, “in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them,” Exodus 32:34; — that is ‘If by their future sins and idolatry they shall provoke me to visit and punish them, I will add unto their punishment somewhat from the desert of this sin of their forefather Whence is that proverb among the Jews, “That there is no evil befalls them but it hath in it some grain of the golden calf.” להניח ליירד פישעי ישראל בגיהנם שאברהם יושב על פתחי של גיהנם שלא, saith Rashi, — “He will mix a little somewhat of the guilt of this sin with the rest of their sins.” And therefore the same word, of “visiting,” is here used as in the threatening in the commandment, Exodus 20:5. And when one generation after another shall persist in the same provoking sins, the weight of God’s indignation grows so heavy, that ordinarily in one part or other it begins to fall within the third or fourth generation. And doth it not concern men to consider what have been the ways of their forefathers, lest there lie a secret, consuming curse against them in the guilt of their sins? Repentance and forsaking their ways wholly intercept the progress of the curse, and set a family at liberty from a great and ancient debt to the justice of God. So God stateth this matter at large, Ezekiel 18. Men know not what arrears may by this means be chargeable on their inheritances; much more, it may be, than all they are worth is able to answer. There is no avoidance of the writ for satisfaction that is gone out against them, but by turning out of the way wherein they are pursued. The same is the case of the blessing that is stored for the posterity of the obedient, provided they are found in the way of their forefathers. These things render them and their ways objects of our consideration. For moreover, —

Obs. 13. It is a dangerous condition, for children to boast of the privilege of their fathers, and to imitate their sins.

This was almost continually the state of the Jews. They were still boasting of their progenitors, and constantly walking in their sins. This they are everywhere in the Scripture charged withal. See Numbers 32:14. This the Baptist reflected on in his first dealing with them: “Bring forth,” saith he, “fruits meet for repentance; and think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father,” Matthew 3:8-9. On every occasion they still cried out, “We have Abraham to our father,” — he who was so highly favored of God, and first received the promises. For his sake and by his means they expected to be saved temporally and eternally. Hence they have a saying in their Talmud, לֹאאּתִהְיֶה אַחֲרֵיאּרַבִּים לְרָעֹת“Abraham sits at the gates of hell, and will not permit that any transgressors of Israel shall go in thither,” — a great reserve against all their sins, but that it will deceive them when they are past relief. It is true they had on this account many privileges, as our apostle testifies in sundry places, Romans 3:1-2; Romans 9:4-5; and so he esteemed them to be as to his own personal interest in Philippians 3:4-5. But whilst they trusted unto them and continued in the sins of them who had abused them, it turned to their further ruin. See Matthew 23:29-32. And let their example deter others from countenancing themselves in privileges of any kind whilst they come short of personal faith and obedience. Again, —

Obs. 14. A multitude joining in any sin given it thereby a great aggravation.

Those here that sinned were all the persons of one entire generation. This made it a formal, open rebellion, a conspiracy against God, a design as it were to destroy his kingdom and to leave him no subjects in the world.

When many conspire in the same sin it is a great inducement unto others to follow. Hence is that caution in the law, Exodus 23:2, “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to de, evil.” The law, indeed, hath an especial respect unto judgment and causes of differences among men. But there is a general direction in the law for our whole course: הוֹי רָד אֶתאּיֹצְרוֹ; — “Thou shalt not be after many” (or “great men”) “unto evils,” — ‘Take heed of the inclination of a multitude unto evil, lest thou art also carried away with their errors and sin;’and this aggravates the sin of many. It doth so also, that the opposition unto God therein is open and notorious, which tends greatly to his dishonor in the world. And what resentment God hath of the provocation that lies herein is fully expressed in Numbers 14, from Numbers 14:20 unto Numbers 14:35, speaking of the sin of the congregation in their unbelief and murmuring against him. In the first place, he engageth himself by his oath to vindicate his glory from the reproach which they had cast upon it, Numbers 14:21, “As truly as I live,” saith he, “all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.” Some take these words to be only an asseveration of that which follows; as if God had said, ‘As truly as I live, and as the earth is filled with my glory, all these men shall perish;’but the words rather contain the principal matter of the oath of God. He swears that as they, by their conjunct sin and rebellion, had dishonored him in the world, so he, by his works of power and vengeance on them, would fill the earth again with his glory. And there is in the following words a representation of a great πάθος, or “commotion,” with great indignation: “They have,” saith he, “seen my miracles, and have tempted me now these ten times,” Numbers 14:22. The Hebrew doctors do scrupulously reckon up these temptations. The first, they say, is in Exodus 14:11, when they said,

“Because there were no graves in Egypt.”

The second in Marah, Exodus 15:24,

“The people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?”

The third in the desert of Sin, Exodus 16:2-3,

“The whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron, and said, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in Egypt, when we sat by the flesh-pots.”

The fourth when they left manna until the morning, Exodus 16:19-20,

“And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning. Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank.”

The fifth was when some of them went out to gather manna on the Sabbath-day, Exodus 16:27-28, which God called a

“refusing to keep his commandments and his laws.”

The sixth was in Rephidim, at the waters of Meribah, Numbers 20:2-13. The seventh in Horeb, when they made the calf, Exodus 32. The eighth at Taberah, Numbers 11:1-3. The ninth at Kibroth-hattaavah, Numbers 11:31-34. The tenth upon the return of the spies, Numbers 14. Thus are the ten temptations reckoned up by some of the Jews, and by others of them they are enumerated with some little alteration. But whether the exact number of ten be intended in the expression is very uncertain; it seems rather to intend multiplied temptations, expressed with much indignation. So Jacob when he chode with Laban told him, “Thou hast changed my wages ten times,” Genesis 31:41; that is, frequently, which he so expressed in his anger and provocation. So doth God here, — “Ye have tempted me these ten times;” that is, ‘So often, so far, that I neither can nor will bear with you any longer.’In the whole discourse (which sinners ought to read and tremble at) there is represented as it were such a rising of anger and indignation in the face of God, such a commotion of soul in displeasure (both made use of to declare an unchangeable will of punishing), as scarce appears again in the Scripture. Thus it is for a multitude to transgress against God, as it were by a joint conspiracy. Such issues will all national apostasies and provocations receive. And this is the first general part of the example proposed to consideration, namely, the persons sinning, with the observations that arise from thence.

2. The second is the matter or quality of their sin, which is referred unto two heads: —

(1.) Their provocation, “In the provocation, in the day of temptation.”

(2.) Their tempting of him, “They tempted me, and proved me.”

(1.) Their sin consisted in their provoking. It seems not to be any one particular sin, but the whole carriage of the people in the actions reflected on, that is intended; and that not at any one time, but in their whole course. The word in the original, as was declared, signifies “to chide,” “to strive,” “to contend,” and that in words: Isaiah 45:9, הוֹי רָבאֶתאּיֹצְרוֹ, — “Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker!” And how doth or maybe do it? “Shall the clay say to him that made it?” etc. It is by “saying,” by speaking against him, that he may so strive with him. But the apostle hath expressed it by a word denoting the effect of that chiding, that is exacerbation or provocation. The expression of the actions here intended, in the places before mentioned, Exodus 17, Numbers 20:13, the chiding of the people, as we observed before, is directly said to be with Moses, as their tempting afterwards is of the Lord. Thus Moses says unto them, “Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the LORD?” Exodus 17:2. But it is also said expressly, “They strove” (the same word) “with the LORD,” Numbers 20:13. The meaning is, that “striving” or “chiding” ( מְרִיבָה, from רוּב) being properly an altercation with or in words, Moses, and not God, was the immediate object of their chiding; but because it was about and concerning the works of God, which Moses had no relation unto but as he was his minister, servant, and employed by him, the principal object of their chiding, as formally a sin, was also God himself. In striving with Moses they strove with him, and in chiding with Moses they chode with him. This expression, then, in general compriseth all the sinful actions of that people against God under the ministry of Moses.

There are two things to be considered in this matter of provocation; —

[1.] The sin that is included in it;

[2.] The event or consequent of it, — God was provoked. The former seems firstly intended in the Hebrew word, the latter in the Greek.

[1.] For the sin intended, it is evident from the story that it was unbelief acting itself by murmuring and complaints; the same for the substance of it by which also they tempted God. This the apostle declares to have been the great provoking sin, Numbers 20:19 : “So we see that they could not enter in, by reason of unbelief.” That was the sin which so provoked God as that “he sware in his wrath that they should not enter into his rest.” Yet it is not their unbelief absolutely considered that is intended, but as it brought forth the effects of chiding with Moses and murmuring against God, which on all occasions they fell into. Though unbelief itself, especially in such a season, be a provoking sin, yet this murmuring and chiding so added unto its provocation that it is directly laid on their accounts. But they also, as the apostle says, are to be resolved into their spring or cause, — that is, unbelief. They are but an especial sign, circumstance, or effect of their unbelief.

[2.] The effect of this sin was the provocation or exacerbation of God. The Hebrew word which the apostle here expresseth by πικρασμός, is כָּעַס; which sometimes is taken actively, for “provoking,” “inciting,” “stimulating,” “imbittering;” sometimes passively, for “indignation,” “perturbation,” “sorrow,” “grief,” “trouble.” In the whole it includes the imbittering of the mind of its object, with an excitation unto anger, displeasure, and wrath. Now, these things are ascribed unto God only by an anthropopathy. Such effects being usually wrought in the minds of the best men when they are unjustly and ungratefully dealt withal, God, to show men the nature of their sins, ascribes them unto himself. His mind is not imbittered, moved, or changed; but men have deserved to be dealt withal as if it were so. See Jeremiah 8:19; 2 Kings 21:15; Isaiah 65:3; Jeremiah 25:7; Jeremiah 32:29; 2 Chronicles 28:25.

Now, this provocation of God by their unbelief, acting itself in murmuring, chiding, and complaining, is further expressed from the season of it, — it was in the “day of temptation,” the day of Massah. The denomination is taken from the name of the place where they first murmured for water, and tempted God by the discovery of their unbelief. As it was called Meribah from the contention, chiding, and provoking, so it was called Massah from the tempting of God there, — the “day of temptation.” In this expression, not the addition of a new sin to that of provocation is intended, but only a description of the sin and season of that sin. It was in the “day of temptation” that God was so provoked by them. How also they tempted him we shall see afterwards. Now, as this day signally began upon the temptation at Meribah, so it continued through the whole course of the people’s peregrination in the wilderness, — their multiplied tempting of God made this whole time a “day of temptation.”

Now, let us consider hence some further observations: —

Obs. 15. The sinful actings of men against those who deal with them in the name of God, and about the works or will of God, are principally against God himself.

The people chode with Moses; but when God came to call it to an account, he says they strove with him and provoked him. So Moses told the people, to take them off from their vain pretences and coverings of their unbelief: Exodus 16:2, “The whole congregation murmured against Moses and Aaron.” But saith he, Exodus 16:7, “The LORD heareth your murmurings against him: and what are we that ye murmur against us?” As if he had said, ‘Mistake not yourselves, it is God, and not us, that you have to do withal in this matter. What you suppose you speak only against us, is indeed directly though not immediately spoken against God.’So God himself informs Samuel, upon the repining of the people against him: “They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them;” because he ruled them immediately in the name of God, 1 Samuel 8:7. They pretended weariness of the government of Samuel, but were indeed weary of God and his rule. And so what was done against him, God took as done against himself. And under the new testament, our Savior in particular applies this rule unto the dispensers of the gospel, Luke 10:16, saith he, “He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.” The preachers of the gospel are sent by Christ, and therefore their opposition and contempt do first reflect dishonor upon him, and through him upon God himself.

And the reason hereof is, because in their work they are representatives of God himself, — they act in his name and in his stead, as his embroiders: 2 Corinthians 5:20, “Now then,” saith the apostle, “we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” They treat with men as sent of God, in his name, about the affairs of Christ. The violation of an ambassador amongst men is always esteemed to redound unto the dishonor of him by whom he is employed; for it is he unto whom the injury and affront are principally intended, especially if it be done unto him in discharge of his office Nor are kings or states ever more highly provoked than when an injury is offered or an affront done unto their ambassadors. The Romans of old utterly destroyed Tarentum in Italy, and Corinth in Greece, on that account; and occasions of the same nature have been like of late to fill the world with blood and tumult. And the reason is, because, according to the light of nature, what is done immediately against a representative as such, is done directly and intentionally against the person represented. So it is in this case. The enmity of men is against God himself, against his way, his works, his will, which his ambassadors do but declare. But these things absolutely are out of their reach. They cannot reach them nor hurt them; nor will they own directly an opposition unto them. Therefore are pretences invented by men against those who are employed by God, that under their covert they may execute their rage against God himself. So Amaziah, priest of Bethel, complained to Jeroboam the king, saying, “Amos hath conspired against thee in the midst of the house of lsrael: the land is not able to bear all his words.” It is not because he preached against his idolatry, or denounced the judgments of God against the sins of men, that Ama-ziah opposeth him; no, it is merely on the account of his sedition, and the danger of the king thereby, Amos 7:10. And when, as itis likely, he could not prevail with the king for his destruction, he deals with him personally himself, to flee away, and so to render himself suspected, Amos 7:12-13. He had used an invidious expression concerning him to the king, קָשַׁר עָלֶיךָ, — “He hath conspired against thee;” that is, to take away thy life. The word is used concerning two kings of Judah, one after another, and the matter ended in their death, 2 Chronicles 24:25; 2 Chronicles 25:27. And it is mostly used for a conspiracy ending in death. And yet all this was from enmity against God, and from no affection to the king. Under the shade of such pretences do men act their opposition unto God upon his messengers. God sees that they are all but coverts for their lusts and obstinacy, — that himself is intended; and he esteems it so accordingly.

Instruction lies plain herein for them who, by vainly-invented pleas and pretences, do endeavor to give countenance to their own consciences in opposition unto those who speak in the name and treat about the things of God. Let them look to it; though they may so satisfy themselves, in and by their own prejudices, as to think they do God good service when they kill them, yet they will find things in the issue brought unto another account. This lies so clear from what hath been spoken that I shall not further insist on it. But let them principally consider this, and thence what is incumbent on them, who are called to deal with others in the name of God. And, —

[1.] Let them take heed that they neither do, nor act, nor speak any thing but what they have sufficient warrant from him for. It is a dangerous thing to entitle God or his name unto our own imaginations. God will not set his seal of approbation, he will not own a concernment in our lie, though we should think that it tends to his glory, Romans 3:7. Neither will he own what is done against us as done against himself, unless we stand in his counsels, and be found in the ways of his will. There is no object of a more sad consideration, than to see some men persecuting others for their errors. They that persecute, — suppose them in the right as to the matter in difference between them and those whom they do oppress, — yet do certainly act against God in what they pretend to act for him; for they usurp his authority over the souls and consciences of men. And they that are persecuted do sacrifice their concernments to the darkness of their own minds. God may concern himself in general to own their integrity towards himself, even in their mistakes; but in the particular wherein they suffer he will not own them. Whether, therefore, we are to do or to suffer any thing for God, it is of great concernment unto us to look well to our call or warrant. And then,

[2.] When men are secured by the word and Spirit of God that their message is not their own, but his that sent them, — that they seek not their own glory, but his, — they may have hence all desirable grounds of encouragement, supportment, and consolation, in all the straits and temptations they meet withal in this world. They can be no more utterly prevailed against (that is, their testimony cannot) than can God himself. So he speaks to Jeremiah:

“I will make thee a fenced brazen wall; they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee: for I am with thee to save thee, and to deliver thee, saith the LORD,” Jeremiah 15:20.

And in what they suffer God is so far concerned, as to account all that is done against them to be done against himself. Christ is hungry with them, and thirsty with them, and in prison with them, Matthew 25:35-40. Again, —

Obs. 16. Unbelief manifesting itself in a time of trial is a most provoking sin.

This, as we have showed, was the sin of the people in their provocation of God. And it is a great sin, — the great sin, the spring of all sins at all times; but it hath many aggravations attending of it in a time of trial. And this compriseth the first sense of the limitation of time in that word, “This day,” before intimated, namely, an especial time and season wherein the guilt of this sin may be eminently contracted. For I speak not of unbelief in general with respect unto the covenant and the promises thereof, but of unbelief as working in a distrust of God with respect unto the dispensations of his providence. It is a disbelieving of God as to any concernment of our own when we have a sufficient warrant to believe and put our trust in him, when it is our duty so to do. And two things we may make a brief inquiry into: —

[1.] What is required that men may be in such a condition as wherein they may contract the guilt of this sin? And hereunto three things do belong: —

1st. That in general they be found in the way of God. God’s promises of his presence, and of his protection unto men, are confined unto his own ways, which alone are theirs, or ought so to be: “He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways,” Psalms 91:11; — that is, theways that he hath appointed thee to walk in. The benefit of which promise the devil vainly attempted to deprive our Savior of, by seducing him to ways that were not his, ways that God had not appointed. Men in ways of their own, — that is, in the crooked paths of sin, — are not obliged to trust in God for mercy and protection in them. So to do, or to pretend so to do, is to entitle God to their lusts. For men to say they trust in God in the pursuit of their covetousness, injustice, oppression, sensuality, or in ways wherein these things have a prevailing mixture, or to pray for the protecting, the blessing presence of God in them, is a high provocation. Every difficulty, every opposition that such men meet withal is raised by God to turn them out of their way. And to expect their removal by him, or strength and assistance against them, is to desire the greatest evil unto their own souls that in this world they are obnoxious unto. The Israelites here blamed were in the way of God, and no opposition ought to have discouraged them therein.

2dly. That in particular they have a warrantable call to engage into that way wherein they are. A way may be good and lawful in itself, but not lawful to a man that enters upon it without a sufficient call to engage in it. And this deprives men also of the grounds, of expectation of God’s presence, so as to that particular way wherein they cannot contract the guilt of this sin; though commonly it is distrust of God that casts men into such ways. It was the way and work of God that the Israelites should destroy the Amorites and possess their land; but when they would in a heat, without a sufficient warrant, go up into the hill and fight with them, Moses says unto them,

“Go not up, for the LORD is not among you;... and they were discomfited unto Hormah,” Numbers 14:42-45.

Unto a lawful way, then, in general, a lawful call in particular must be added, or we have not a sufficient foundation for the discharge of that duty whose defect is now charged by us.

3dly. They must have a sufficient warranty of the presence and protection of God. This is that which makes faith and trust a duty. And God gives it two ways, —

1. In general, in the promise of the covenant, wherein he hath undertaken to be with us, to bless us, and to carry us through the course of our duty: Hebrews 13:5, “He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” This alone is a sufficient ground and foundation for faith and trust in every condition. And this the Israelites had in the promise made unto Abraham and others of their forefathers,

2. By giving some signal instances of his power, wisdom, and care, in his presence with us, by protection, direction, preservation, or deliverance, in those ways of his wherein we are engaged. When by this means he hath given us experience of his goodness, faithfulness, and approbation of the ways wherein we are, this adds a specialty unto the general warrant for faith in the word of promise. And this they also had in all those works of God which they saw for forty years.

[2.] It must be inquired, what it is that makes any time or season to be a day of trial, seeing the miscarriage of men in such a season is expressed as a great aggravation of their sin. And they are the things that follow: —

1st. That there be a concernment of the glory of God in the performance of that duty wherein we are to act faith, or to trust in God. So God tried the faith of Abraham in a duty wherein his glory was greatly concerned. For by his obedience in faith, it appeared to all the world that Abraham respected God, and valued a compliance with his will above all things in this world whatever. So God himself expresseth it, Genesis 22:12 : “Now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.” This was the tenth and last trial that befell Abraham. Nine times he had been tried before: —

1. In his departure out of his country;

2. By the famine which drove him into Egypt;

3. In the taking away of his wife there by Pharaoh;

4. In his war with the four kings;

5. In his hopelessness of issue by Sarah, whence he took Hagar;

6. In the law of circumcision;

7. His wife taken item him again by Abimelech;

8. His casting out of Hagar after she had conceived; 9. His expulsion of Ishmael

In some of these it is known how he failed, though in most of them he acquitted himself as became the father of the faithful. But now the “fluctus decumanus” came upon him, his last and utmost trial, wherein he was made a spectacle to men, angels, and devils. The Jews tell us great stories of the opposition made by Satan, in his arguing with Abraham and Isaac about and against their obedience in this thing; and no doubt but he employed himself unto that purpose. And it is endless to show how many eyes were upon him; all which gave a concernment of glory unto God. Here, therefore, Abraham in a most especial manner acquits himself; whence God gives him that testimony, “Now I know that thou fearest God;” that is, ‘Now thou hast made it known beyond all exception.’ And this puts a blessed close unto all his signal trials. When, therefore, God calls men forth unto the performance and discharge of any duty wherein his glory and honor in the world is concerned, then he makes it unto them a time of trial.

2dly. Difficulties and opposition lying in the way of duty make the season of it a time of trial. When men have wind and tide with them in their sailing, neither their strength nor their skill is tried at all; but when all is against them, then it is known what they are. When the sun shines and fair weather continues, the houses that are built on the sand continue as well as those that are built on the rock; but when the rain, and the floods, and the wind come, they make the trial Whilst men have outward advantages to encourage them in the ways of God, it is not known what principles they act from; but when their obedience and profession are attended with persecution, reproach, poverty, famine, nakedness, death, then it is tried what men build upon, and what they trust unto, — then it is to them a time of trial.

Further; to give light unto our proposition, we may inquire how or by what means men do or may act and manifest their unbelief at such a time or season. And this may be done several ways: —

[1.] By dissatisfaction in and discontent at that condition of difficulty whereinto they are brought by the providence of God for their trial. Herein principally did the Israelites offend in the wilderness. Their condition pleased them not. This occasioned all their murmurings and complaints whereby God was provoked. It is true they were brought into many straits and difficulties; but they were brought into them for their trial by God himself, against whom they had no reason to repine or complain. And this is no small fruit, effect, and evidence of unbelief in trials, — namely, when we like not that condition we are brought into, of poverty, want, danger, persecution. If we like it not, it is from our unbelief. God expects other things from us. Our condition is the effect of his wisdom, his care and love, and as such by faith ought it to be acquiesced in.

[2.] By the omission of any duty that is incumbent on us, because of the difficulties that attend it, and the opposition that is made unto it. The “fearful” and “unbelieving” go together, Revelation 21:8. When our fear or any other affection, influenced or moved by earthly things, prevails with us to forego our duty, either absolutely or in the most special and eminent instances of its practice, then unbelief prevails in the time of our trials. And this way also in particular did the Israelites fail. When they heard of fenced cities and sons of Anak, they gave up all endeavors of going into the land of Canaan, and consulted of making a captain to lead them back again into Egypt. And no otherwise is it with them who forego their profession because of the giant-like opposition which they find against it.

[3.] When men turn aside and seek for unwarrantable assistances against their difficulties. So did this people, — they made a calf to supply the absence of Moses; and were contriving a return into Egypt to deliver them out of their troubles. When men in any thing make flesh their arm, their hearts depart from the Lord, Jeremiah 17:5.

[4.] When men disbelieve plain and direct promises merely on the account of the difficulties that lie against their accomplishment. This reflects unspeakable dishonor on the veracity and power of God; — the common sin of this wilderness people, they limited God, and said, Can he do this or that? Seldom it was that they believed beyond what they enjoyed. Here lay the main cause of their sin and ruin. They had a promise of entering into the land. They believed it not; and, as our apostle says, they “could not enter in because of unbelief.” The promise was to their nation, the posterity of Abraham; the accomplishment of it in their persons depended on their faith. Here was their trial. They believed not, but provoked God; and so perished.

Now, the reasons of the greatness of this sin, and its aggravations, are contained in the previous description of it. Every instance declaring its nature manifests it also to be heinous. I shall take up and only mention three of them: —

[1.] There is, as was showed, an especial concernment of the glory of God in this matter. He calls men forth in such a season to make a trial of their obedience. He makes them therein, as the apostle speaks, a spectacle unto men and angels. And the hinge that the whole case turns upon is their faith. This all other actings hold a conformity unto. If here they discharge themselves aright, the glory of God, the manifestation whereof is committed unto them, is preserved entire. If herein they fail, they have done what lies in them to expose it to contempt. See Numbers 14:21. So was the case in the trial of Job. God permitted Satan to try to the uttermost whether he believed in him and loved him sincerely or no. Had Job failed herein, how would Satan have vaunted and boasted, and that against God himself! And the same advantage do others put into his hands, when at any time they miscarry in point of faith in a time of trial.

[2.] The good and welfare, the peace and prosperity of the church in this world, depend on the deportment of men belonging to it in their trials; they may, at least as unto God’s outward dispensations towards them, sin at a cheaper rate at other times. A time of trial is the turn of a church’s peace or ruin. We see what their unbelief cost this whole generation in the wilderness; and these Hebrews, their posterity, were now upon the like trial. And the apostle by this instance plainly intimates unto them what would be the issue if they continued therein; which accordingly proved to be their utter rejection.

[3.] Add hereunto, that it is the design of God in such particular instances to try our faith in general as to the promises of the covenant and our interest therein. The promise that this people had principally to deal with God about, was that of the covenant made with Abraham, the which all pretended to believe. But God tried them by the particular instances mentioned; and failing therein, they failed as unto the whole covenant. And it is so still. Many pretend that they believe the promises of the covenant as to life and salvation by it firmly and immovably. God tries them by particular instances, of persecution, difficulty, straits, public or private. Here they abide not, but either complain and murmur, or desert their duty, or fall to sinful compliances, or are weary of God’s dispensations. And this manifests their unsoundness in the general; nor can it be otherwise tried.

Again, observe that, —

Obs. 17. There is commonly a day, a time, wherein unbelief ariseth to its height in provocation.

We showed before that there is a day, an especial season of God’s dealing with the sons of men, by his word and other means of grace. The due observance and improvement hereof is of the greatest importance unto them. “Today, if ye will hear his voice;” — that is, the day wherein God’s dispensations of grace and patience come to their ἀκμή, “status rerum inter incrementum et decrementum,” — their height. After this, if not closed with, if not mixed with faith and obeyed, they either insensibly decline, in respect of their tender or efficacy, or are utterly removed and taken away. In like manner there is a day, a season wherein the unbelief of men in its provocation comes to its height and uttermost issue, beyond which God will bear with them no longer, but will break off all gracious intercourse between himself and such provokers This was the direct case with these Israelites They had by their unbelief and murmuring provoked God ten times, as was declared before; but the day of their provocation, the season wherein it arrived to its height, came not until this trial mentioned, Numbers 14, upon the return of the spies that went to search the land. Before that time God often reproved them, was angry with them, and variously punished them, but he still returned unto them in a way of mercy and compassion, and still proposed unto them an entrance into his rest, according to the promise; but when that day once came, when the provocation of their unbelief was come to its height, then he would bear with them no longer, but swears in his wrath that they should not enter into his rest. From that day he took hold of all occasions to exercise severity against them, flooding them away, Psalms 90:5, until that whole evil generation was consumed. And so it was with their posterity as to their church and national state. God sent unto them, and dealt variously with them, by his prophets, in several generations. Some of them they persecuted, others they killed, and upon the matter rejected them all, as to the main end of their work and message. But yet all this while God spared them, and continued them a people and a church, — their provocation was not come unto its height, its last day was not yet come. At length, according to his promise, he sent his Son unto them. This gave them their last trial, this put them into the same condition with their forefathers in the wilderness, as our apostle plainly intimates in the use of this example. Again, they despised the promises, — as their fathers had done in the type and shadow, so did they when the substance of all promises was tendered and exhibited unto them. This was the day of their last provocation, after which God would bear with them no more in a way of patience; but enduring them for the space of near forty years, he utterly rejected them; — sending forth his servants, “he slew those murderers, and burned up their city.” This is that which our Savior at large declares in his parable of the householder and his husbandmen, Matthew 21:33-41.

And thus in God’s dealing with the antichristian state, there is a season wherein the angel swears that “there shall be time no longer,” Revelation 10:6; that God would no longer bear with men, or forbear them in their provocations and idolatries, but would thenceforth give them up unto all sorts of judgments spiritual and temporal, unto their utter confusion, — yea, “send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness,” 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12. And concerning this day two things may be observed: —

[1.] That it is;

[2.] That it is unalterable.

[1.] It is uncertain. Men know not when their provocations do come or will come unto this height. Jerusalem knew not in the entrance of her day that her sin and unbelief were coming to their issue, and so was not awakened to their prevention; no more than the men of Sodom knew when the sun arose that there was a cloud of fire and brimstone hanging over their heads. Men in their sins think they will do as at other times, as Samson did when his locks were cut, and that things will be made up between God and them as formerly, — that they shall yet have space and time for their work and duty; but ere they are aware they have finished their course, and filled up the measure of their sins.

“For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them,” Ecclesiastes 9:12.

For the day of the Lord’s indignation comes “as a snare on them that dwell on the face of the earth,” Luke 21:35. And men are often crying, “Peace, peace,” when sudden destruction comes upon them, 1 Thessalonians 5:3. When Babylon shall say “she sits as a queen, and is no widow” (her sons being again restored unto her),

“and shall see no sorrow; then shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine, and she shall be utterly burned with fire,” Revelation 18:7-8.

Hence is Christ so often said to come as a thief, to manifest how men will be surprised by him in their sins and impenitency. And if the outward peace and the lives of men in this condition be respited for a while, as ofttimes they are, yet they are no longer under a dispensation of patience. There is nothing between God and them but anger and wrath. If men knew when would be their last trial, and which were it, we think they would rouse up themselves to a deep consideration of it, and a serious compliance with the call of God. But this, in the holy will and wisdom of God, is always hid from them, until it be too late to make use of it, until it can produce no effects but a few despairing wishes. God will have none of his warnings, none of his merciful dispensations put off or slighted with the hope and expectation of another season, by a foolish promising whereof unto themselves men ruin their souls every day.

[2.] It is unalterable and irrecoverable. When the provocation of unbelief comes to this height there is no space or room left for repentance, either on the part of God or the sinner. For men, for the most part, after this they have no thought of repenting. Either they see themselves irrecoverable, and so grow desperate, or become stupidly senseless and lie down in security. So those false worshippers in the Revelation, after time was granted unto them no longer, but the plagues of God began to come upon them, it is said they repented not, but bit their tongues for anger, and blasphemed God. Instead of repenting of their sins, they rage against their punishment. And if they do change their mind in any thing, as Esau did when he saw the blessing was gone, it is not by true repentance, nor shall it be unto any effect or purpose. So the Israelites finished their sin by murmuring against the Lord upon the return of the spies, and said they would not go up into the land, but would rather return into Egypt, Numbers 14. But after a while they changed their minds, “and they rose up early in the morning, and gat them up into the top of the mountain, saying, Lo, we be here, and will go up unto the place which the LORD hath promised,” Numbers 14:40. But what was the issue? Their time was past, the Lord was not among them: “The Amalekites came down, and the Canaanites which dwelt in that hill, and smote them, and discomfited them, even unto Hormah,” Numbers 14:45. Their change of mind was not repentance, but a new aggravation of their sin. Repentance also in this matter is hid from the eyes of God. When Saul had finished his provocation, Samuel, denouncing the judgment of God against him, adds, “And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent,” 1 Samuel 15:29. God firms his sentence, and makes it irrevocable, by the engagement of his own immutability. There is no change, no alteration, no reprieve, no place for mercy, when this day is come and gone, Ezekiel 21:25.

Let persons, let churches, let nations, take heed lest they fall unawares into this evil day. I say unawares to themselves, because they know not when they may be overtaken by it. It is true, all the danger of it ariseth from their own negligence, security, and stubbornness. If they will give ear to previous warnings, this day will never come upon them. It may not, therefore, be unworthy our inquiry to search what prognostics men may have into the approach of such a day. And, —

[1.] When persons, churches, or nations, have already contracted the guilt of various provocations, they may justly fear that their next shall be their last. ‘You have,’saith God to the Israelites, ‘provoked me these ten times,’ — that is, frequently, as hath been declared, — ‘and now your day is come. You might have considered before, that I would not always thus bear with you.’Hath God, then, borne with you in one and another provocation, temptation, backsliding? — take heed lest the great sin lies at the door, and be ready to enter upon the next occasion. As God told Cain, Genesis 4:7, “If thou dost not do well רֹבֶ׃ לַפֶּתַח חַטָּאת,” “peccatum ad ostium cubat,” — “sin lies down at the door,” as a beast ready to enter on the next occasion, the next opening of it. After former provocations so lieth that which shall fill the ephah, and have the talent of lead laid upon it. Take heed, gray hairs are sprinkled upon you, though you perceive it not. Death is at the door. Beware lest your next provocation be your last. When your transgressions come to three and four, the punishment of your iniquities will not be turned away. When that is come, you may sin whilst you will or while you can; God will have no more to do with you but in a way of judgment.

[2.] When repentance upon convictions of provocations lessens or decays, it is a sad symptom of an approaching day wherein iniquity will be completed. Useful repentance, — that is, that which is of any use in this world for the deferring or retarding of judgment, — is commensurate unto God’s dispensations of patience. When the fixed bounds of it (as it hath fixed bounds) are arrived at, all springs of repentance are dried up. When, therefore, persons fall into the guilt of many provocations, and God giving in a conviction of them by his word or providence, they are humbled for them according to their light and principles; if they find their humiliations, upon their renewed convictions, to grow weak, decay, and lessen in their effects, — they do not so reflect upon themselves with self-displicency as formerly, nor so stir up themselves unto amendment as they have done upon former warnings or convictions, nor have in such cases their accustomed sense of the displeasure and terror of the Lord, — let them beware, evil is before them, and the fatal season of their utmost provoking is at hand, if not prevented.

[3.] When various dispensations of God towards men have been useless and fruitless, when mercies, judgments, dangers, deliverances, signally stamped with respect unto the sins of men, but especially the warnings of the word, have been multiplied towards any persons, churches, or nations, and have passed over them without their reformation or recovery, no doubt but judgment is ready to enter, yea, if it be into the house of God itself.

Is it thus with any, is this their estate and condition? — let them please themselves while they please, they are like Jonah, asleep in the ship, whilst it is ready to be cast away on their account. Awake and tremble; you know not how soon a great, vigorous, prevalent temptation may hurry you into your last provocation. And this is the first head of sin instanced in.

(2.) They are said also to have tempted God: “In the temptation; when your fathers tempted me.” Wherein their provocation did consist, and what was the sin which is so expressed, we have declared. We must now inquire what was their tempting of God, of what nature was their sin therein, and wherein it did consist. To tempt God is a thing frequently mentioned in the Scripture, and condemned as a provoking sin. And it is generally esteemed to consist in a venturing on or an engaging into any way, work, or duty, without sufficient call, warrant, or rule, upon the account of trusting God therein; or, in the neglect of the use of ordinary means in any condition, desiring, expecting, or trusting unto any extraordinary assistances or supplies from God. So when men seem rashly to cast themselves into danger, out of a confidence in the presence and protection of God, it is said that they tempt God. And sundry texts of Scripture seem to give countenance to this description of the sin of tempting of God. So Isaiah 7:11-12 : When the prophet bade Ahaz ask a sign of the Lord in the depth or in the height above, he replied, “I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD” — that is, ‘I will rest in what thou hast said, and not tempt God by seeking any thing extraordinary.’And so when Satan tempted our Savior to show his power by casting himself down from a pinnacle of the temple, — which was none of his ways, — Matthew 4:7, he answers him by that saying of Deuteronomy 6:16, “Thou shalt not tempt the LORD thy God.” To venture, therefore, on any thing, unwarrantably trusting unto God for protection, is to tempt him. And this is usually and generally allowed as the nature of this sin and sense of this expression.

But yet I must needs say, that upon the consideration of all the places where mention is made of tempting the Lord, I am forced to embrace another sense of the meaning of this expression, which if it be not utterly exclusive of that already mentioned, yet it is doubtless more frequently intended, and doth more directly express the sin here condemned. Now, this is a distrust of God whilst we are in any of his ways, after we have received sufficient experiences and instances of his power and goodness to confirm us in the stability and certainty of his promises. Thus to do is to tempt God. And when this frame is found in any, they are said to tempt him; that is, to provoke him by their unbelief. It is not barely and nakedly to disbelieve the promises, it is not unbelief in general, but it is to disbelieve them under some peculiar attestation and experience obtained of the power and goodness of God in their pursuit and towards their accomplishment. When, therefore, men are engaged into any way of God according to their duty, and meeting with opposition and difficulty therein, if they give way to despondency and unbelief, if they have received any signal pledges of his faithfulness, in former effects of his wisdom, care, power, and goodness, they tempt God, and are guilty of the sin here branded and condemned. The most eminent instances of tempting God in the Scripture, and which are most frequently mentioned, are these of the Israelites in the wilderness. As they are here represented in the story, so they are called over again both in the Old Testament and the New: Psalms 78:41, “Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel;” and 1 Corinthians 10:9, they “tempted Christ.” And wherein did this temptation consist? It was in this, and no other, — they would not believe or trust God when they were in his way, after they had received many experiences of his power and presence amongst them. And this is directly expressed, Exodus 17:7, “They tempted the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not?” They doubted of and questioned his presence, and also all the pledges and tokens which he had given them of it. And this sin of theirs the psalmist at large pursues, showing wherein it did consist, Psalms 78:22-23,

“They believed not in God, and trusted not in his salvation, though he had commanded the clouds from above, and opened the doors of heaven.”

Psalms 78:32, “For all this they sinned still, and believed not for his wondrous works.” Psalms 78:41-42, “They turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel. They remembered not his hand, nor the day when he delivered them from the enemy.” Thus plain doth he make the nature of their sin in tempting of God. It was their distrust and disobeying of him, after they had received so many encouraging evidences of his power, goodness, and wisdom amongst them. This, and this alone, is in the Scripture called tempting of God. For that of our Savior, Matthew 4:7, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God,” it was taken, as was observed, from Deuteronomy 6:16, where the following words are, “as ye tempted him in Massah.” Now this tempting of God at Massah was that which we have declared, namely, the disbelieving of him after many evidences of his power and faithfulness. And this directly answers the end for which our Savior made use of these words; which was to show that he was so far satisfied of God’s presence with him, and of his being the Son of God, that he would not tempt him by desiring other experience of it, as though what he had already were not sufficient. And the reason why Ahaz said he would not tempt the Lord in asking a sign, was no other but because he believed not either that he would give him a sign or that he would deliver: and therefore he resolved to trust to himself, and with his money to hire the Assyrians to help him; which he did accordingly, 2 Kings 16:7-9.

And this sin is called tempting of God, from its effect, and not from its formal nature. They “tempted God;” that is, by their unbelief they provoked him and stirred him up to anger and indignation. And from the discovery of the nature of this sin we may observe, that, —

Obs. 18. To distrust God, to disbelieve his promises, whilst a way of duty lies before us, after we have had experiences of his goodness, power, and wisdom, in his dealing with us, is a tempting of God, and a greatly provoking sin.

And a truth this is that hath ציד בפיו, “meat in his mouth,” or instruction ready for us, that we may know how to charge this aggravation of our unbelief upon our souls and consciences. Distrust of God is a sin that we are apt, upon sundry perverse reasonings, to indulge ourselves in, and yet is there nothing wherewith God is more provoked. Now, it appears in the proposition laid down, that sundry things are required that a person, a church, a people, may render themselves formally guilty of this sin; as, —

[1.] That they be called unto or engaged in some especial way of God. And this is no extraordinary thing. All believers who attend unto their duty will find it to be their state and condition. So were the Israelites in the wilderness. If we are out of the ways of God, our sin may be great, but it is a sin of another nature. It is in his ways that we have his promises, and therefore it is in them, and with reference unto them, that we are bound to believe and trust in him; and on the same account, in them alone can we tempt God by our unbelief.

[2.] That in this way they meet with oppositions, difficulties, hardships, temptations; and this, whilst Satan and the world continue in their power, they shall be sure to do. Yea, God himself is pleased ofttimes to exercise them with sundry things of this nature. Thus it befell the people in the wilderness. Sometimes they had no bread, and sometimes they had no water; sometimes enemies assaulted them, and sometimes serpents bit them. Those things which in God’s design are trials of faith, and means to stir it up unto a diligent exercise, in their own natures are grievous and troublesome, and in the management of Satan tend to the producing of this sin, or tempting of God.

[3.] That they have received former experiences of the goodness, power, and wisdom of God, in his dealings with them. So had this people done; and this God chargeth them withal when he reproacheth them with this sin of tempting him. And this also all believers are or may be made partakers of. He who hath no experience of the especial goodness and power of God towards him, it hath been through his own negligence and want of observation, and not from any defect in God’s dispensations. As he leaveth not himself without witness towards the world, in that “he doth them good, sending them rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling their hearts with food and gladness;” no more is he wanting towards all believers, in giving them especial tokens of his love, care, and kindness towards them; for he is the “savior of all men,” but “specially of those that believe,” 1 Timothy 4:10. But as the most in the world take no notice of the effects of his care and goodness towards them, so many believers are negligent in treasuring up experiences of his especial care and love towards them. Yet this hinders not but that the ways and dealings of God are indeed such as have been declared.

Now, where these things concur, the distrust of God is a high provocation of him. It is unbelief, the worst of sins, expressing itself to the greatest disadvantage of God’s glory, the height of aggravations; for what can God do more for us, and what can we do more against him? Surely, when he hath revealed his ways unto us, and made known unto us our duty; when he hath given us pledges of his presence with us, and of his owning of us, so as to seal and ascertain his promises unto us; then for us, upon the opposition of creatures, or worldly difficulties, about outward, temporary, perishing things (for their power and efficacy extends no farther), to disbelieve and distrust him, it must needs be a high provocation to the eyes. of his glory. But, alas! how frequently do we contract the guilt of this sin, both in our personal, family, and more public concernments!

A due consideration hereof lays, without doubt, matter of deep humiliation before us.

And this is the second general head insisted on by the apostle in the example proposed, — namely, the nature of the sin or sins which the people fell into, and which he intends to dehort his Hebrews from.

3. The third general head of this discourse contains a triple aggravation of the sin of the people in their provoking and tempting of God: —

(1.) From the place wherein they so sinned, — it was in the wilderness.

(2.) From the means they had to the contrary, — they saw the works of God.

(3.) From the continuance of the use of those means, and the duration of their sin under them, — it was thus for forty years: “They saw my works forty years.”

For these, as they are circumstances of the story, so they are aggravations of the sin mentioned in it.

(1.) They thus dealt with God in the wilderness: what wilderness is intended we showed before, in the exposition of the words. And however there may be a peculiar respect unto that part of the wilderness wherein the definitive sentence of their exclusion from the land of Canaan was given out against them, — which was in the wilderness of Paran, Numbers 12:16, at the very borders of the land that they were to possess, as appears Numbers 14:40, — yet because the time of forty years is mentioned, which was the whole time of the people’s peregrination in the deserts of Arabia, I take the word to comprehend the whole. Here, in this wilderness, they provoked and tempted God. And this contains a great aggravation of their sin; for, —

[1.] This was the place wherein they were brought into liberty, after they and their forefathers had been in sore bondage unto the Egyptians for sundry ages. This was a mercy promised unto them, and which they cried out for in the day of their oppression:

“They cried; and their cry came up unto God, by reason of the bondage,” Exodus 2:23.

Now, to handsel their liberty, to make an entrance into it by this rebellion against God, it was a provoking circumstance.

[2.] It was a place wherein they lived solely and visibly upon God’s daily extraordinary provision for them. Should he have withheld a continual working of miracles in their behalf, both they and theirs must have utterly perished. This could not but have affected them with love and fear, great preservatives of obedience, had they not been extremely stupid and obdurate.

[3.] They were in a place where they had none to tempt them, to provoke them, to entice them unto sin, unless they willfully sought them out unto that very end and purpose; as they did in the case of Midian. The people now “dwelt alone, and were not reckoned among the nations.” Afterwards, indeed, when they dwelt among other nations, they learned their manners; but as that was no excuse for their sin, so this was a great aggravation of it, that here it sprung merely from themselves and their own evil heart of unbelief, continually prone to depart from the living God.

(2.) It was a place wherein they continually saw the works of God; which is the second general head mentioned in the aggravation of their sin: “They saw my works.” And this did aggravate their sin on many accounts: —

[1.] From the evidence that they had that such works were wrought, and that they were wrought of God, — they saw them. This Moses laid weight on, Deuteronomy 5:3-4, “The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, אִתָּנוּ אֲנַחְנוּ אֵלֶּה,” “who are all of us here alive this day. The LORD talked with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire.” “Not with our fathers;” that is, say some, ‘our forefathers who died in Egypt, and heard not the voice of God in Horeb:’ or, “Not with our fathers;” that is, only, their fathers were alive at the giving of the law, ‘but the covenant was not made with them only, but with us also.’So Rashi on the place, לא את אבותינו בלבד, “Not with our fathers only.” And then כִּי אִתָּנוּ. is as much as כִּי גַּם אִתָּנוּ, as Aben Ezra observes, “with us also.” And he confirms this kind of speech from that of God to Jacob, “Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel;” — that is, ‘Thou shalt not be called only so;’for he was frequently called Jacob afterward, Others suppose that by the “fathers,” Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, are intended, who were the especial fathers of the people. Now, they received the promise, and therein had the covenant of grace confirmed unto them, but had no share in the special covenant which was made in, by, and at the giving of the law; and in this sense the emphasis is on the word בְּרִית הַזּוֹת הַזּוֹת, “this covenant,” this which is now made in the giving of the law. For my part, I am apt to think that God doth in these words of Moses show his indignation against all that provoking generation of their fathers in that wilderness, and affirms his covenant was not made with them, because they despised it, and received no benefit by it; for it had a peculiar respect unto the land of Canaan, concerning which God sware that they should not enter it. ‘It was not with them,’saith he, ‘whom God despised and regarded not, but with you who are now ready to enter into the promised land, that this covenant was made.’See Hebrews 8:9. The ground why I produced this place, is toshow what weight is to be laid on immediate transactions with God, — personal seeing of his works. Herein they had an advantage above those who could only say with the psalmist, Psalms 44:1,

“We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, what work thou didst in their days, in the times of old.”

They saw with their own eyes what was but told or reported unto others. And herein they had a double advantage, —

1st. In point of evidence. They had the highest and most unquestionable evidence that the works mentioned were wrought, and wrought of God, — they saw them. And this is clearly the most satisfactory evidence concerning miraculous works. Hence our Savior chose those to be the witnesses of his miracles who had been αὐτόπται, “spectators,” of them.

2dly. In point of efficacy for their end. Things seen and beheld have naturally a more effectual influence on the minds of men than those which they only hear of or are told them: —

“Segnius irritant animos demissa per aures, Quam quae sunt oculis subjecta fidelibus.” — Hor, ad Pison., 180.

This, therefore, greatly aggravates their sin, — that they themselves saw these works of God, which were signal means of preserving them from it.

[2.] From the nature of the works themselves which they saw. They were such as were eminent effects of the properties of God, and means of their demonstration, and therein of the revelation of God unto them. Some of them were works of power, as his dividing of the sea, whose waves roared; some of majesty and terror, as the dreadful appearances, in thunders, lightnings, fire, smoke, and earthquake, at the giving of the law; some of severity and indignation against sin, as his drowning the Egyptians, the opening of the earth to swallow up Corah, Dathan, and Abiram, and the plagues that befell themselves; some of privilege, favor, love, and grace, as the giving of the law, intrusting them with his oracles, and forming them into a church and state, Isaiah 57:16; some of care and providence for their continual supply, in giving water from the rock, and bread from heaven, and preserving their garments from waxing old; some of direction and protection, as in the cloud and pillar of fire, to guide, direct, and refresh them night and day in that waste howling wilderness; — in all which works God abundantly manifested his power, goodness, wisdom, grace, faithfulness, tendering them the highest security of his accomplishing his promises, if they rejected not their interest in them by their unbelief. And it is a matter well worthy consideration, how excellently and pathetically Moses pleads all these works of God with them in the Book of Deuteronomy. And all these works of God were excellent means to have wrought up the hearts of the people unto faith and obedience; and unto that end and purpose were they wrought all of them. This he frequently declared whilst they were under the accomplishment, and thereon afterwards reproacheth them with their unbelief. What could be more suited to beget in the minds of men a due apprehension of the greatness, goodness, and faithfulness of God, than they were? And what is a more effectual motive unto obedience than such apprehensions? The neglect of them, therefore, carries along with it a great aggravation of sin. To tempt God, to murmur against him, as though he could not or would not provide for them, or make good his word unto them, whilst they saw, as it were, every day, those great and marvelous works which had such an impression of his glorious image upon them, it made way for their irrecoverable destruction.

(3.) The third aggravation of the sin of this people is taken from the time of their continuance in it, under the use of the means to the contrary before insisted on, — it was “forty years.” The patience of God was extended towards them, and his works were wrought before them, not for a week, or a month, or a year, but for forty years together! And this increaseth the greatness and strangeness of this dispensation, both on the part of God, and theirs also; — on the part of God, that he should bear with their manners so long, when they had so often deserved to be destroyed as one man, and which he had threatened often to do; and on their part, that so long a course of patience, accompanied with so many works of power and mercy, all of them for their instruction, most of them unto their present benefit and advantage, should have no effect upon them to prevent their continuance in their sin unto their ruin.

And these are the aggravations of their sin, which the psalmist collects from the circumstances of it, and which the apostle repeats for our warning and instruction; and this we shall draw out in the ensuing observations.

Obs. 19. No place, no retiredness, no solitary wilderness, will secure men from sin or suffering, provocation or punishment.

These persons were in a wilderness, where they had many motives and encouragements unto obedience, and no means of seduction and outward temptation from others, yet there they sinned and there they suffered. They sinned in the wilderness, and their carcasses fell in the wilderness; they filled that desert with sins and graven And the reason hereof is, because no place as such can of itself exclude the principles and causes either of sin or punishment. Men have the principle of their sins in themselves, in their own hearts, which they cannot leave behind them, or yet get off by shifting of places, or changing their stations. And the justice of God, which is the principal cause of punishment, is no less in the wilderness than in the most populous cities; the wilderness is no wilderness to him, he can find his paths in all its intricacies. The Israelites came hither on necessity, and so they found it with them; and in after ages some have done so by choice, — they have retired into wildernesses for the furtherance of their obedience and devotion. In this very wilderness, on the top of Sinai, there is at this day a monastery of persons professing themselves to be religious, and they live there to increase religion in them. I once for some days conversed with their chief (they call him Archimandrite) here in England. For aught I could perceive, he might have learned as much elsewhere. And, indeed, what hath been the issue of that undertaking in general? For the most part, unto their old lusts men added new superstitions, until they made themselves an abomination unto the Lord, and utterly useless in the world, yea, burdensome unto human society. Such persons are like the men of Succoth whom Gideon taught with “the thorns and briers of the wilderness,” Judges 8:16. They learned nothing by it but the sharpness of the thorns and the greatness of their own folly. No more did they at best learn any thing from their wilderness retirements, but the sharpness of the place, which was a part of the punishment of their sin, and no means sanctified for the furtherance of their obedience. These two things, then, are evident: —

[1.] That the principle of men’s unbelief and disobedience is in themselves, and in their own hearts, which leaves them not upon any change of their outward condition.

[2.] That no outward state of things, whether voluntarily chosen by ourselves, or we be brought into it by the providence of God, will either cure or conquer, or can restrain the inward principles of sin and unbelief. I remember old Jerome somewhere complains, that when he was in his horrid cave at Bethlehem, his mind was frequently among the delicacies of Rome. And this will teach us, —

1st. In every outward condition to look principally to our own hearts. We may expect great advantages from various conditions, but shall indeed meet with none of them, unless we fix and water the root of them in ourselves. One thinks he could serve God better in prosperity, if freed from the perplexities of poverty, sickness, or persecution; others, that they should serve him better if called unto afflictions and trials. Some think it would be better with them if retired and solitary; others, if they had more society and company. But the only way, indeed, to serve God better, is to abide in our station or condition, and therein to get better hearts. It is Solomon’s advice, מִכָּלאּמִשְׁמָר נְצֹר לִבֶּךָ, Proverbs 4:23, “Above or before every watch or keeping, keep thy heart.” It is good to keep the tongue, and it is good to keep the feet, and it is good to keep the way, as he further declares in that place, but saith he, “Above all keepings, keep thy heart.” And he adds a great reason for his caution: “For,” saith he, “out of it are the issues of life.” Life and death, in the means and causes of them, do come out of the heart. So our Savior instructs us that in our hearts lie our treasures; what they are, that are we, and nothing else. Thence are all our actions drawn forth, which not only smell of the cask, but receive thence principally their whole moral nature, whether they are good or bad.

2dly. Look for all relief and for help against sin merely from grace. A wilderness will not help you, nor a paradise. In the one Adam sinned, in whom we all sinned; in the other all Israel sinned, who were an example unto us all. Men may to good purpose go into a wilderness to exercise grace and principles of truth, when the acting of them is denied elsewhere: but it is to no purpose to go into a wilderness to seek for these things; their dwelling is in the love and favor of God, and nowhere else can they be found. See Job 28:12-28. Do not expect that mercies of themselves will do you good, or that afflictions will do you good, that the city or the wilderness will do you good; it is grace alone that can do you good. And if you find inward benefits by outward things, it is merely from the grace that God is pleased to administer and dispense with them. And he can separate them when he pleaseth. He can give mercies that shall be so materially, but not eventually, — like the quails, which fed the bodies of the people whilst leanness possessed their souls. And he can send affliction that shall have nothing in it but affliction, — present troubles leading on to future troubles. Learn, then, in all places, in every state and condition, to live in the freedom, riches, and efficacy of grace; for other helps, other advantages have we none.

3dly. Let us learn, that whithersoever sin can enter punishment can follow. “Culpam sequitur poena pede claudo.” Though vengeance seems to have a lame toot, yet it will hunt sin until it overtake the sinner: Psalms 140:11, “Evil shall hunt the violent man to overtake him” Go where he will, the fruits of his own evil and violence, the punishment due to them, shall hunt him and follow him; and though it should sometimes appear to be out of sight, or off from the scent, yet it will recover its view, and chase until it hath brought him to destruction, — לְמַדְחֵפֹח, “to thrustings down,” until he be utterly thrust down. Saith the Targum, “The angel of death shall hunt him until he thrust him down into hell.” The heathen owned this: —

“Quo fugis, Encelade? quascunque accesseris oras, Sub Jove semper eris.”

Punishment will follow sin into the wilderness, where it is separated from all the world; and climb up after it to the top of the tower of Babel, where all the world conspired to defend it. It will follow it into the dark, the dark corners of their hearts and lives, and overtake them in the light of the world. God hath ἔνδικον ὄμμα, “an eye of revenge,” that nothing can escape.

“Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD,” Jeremiah 23:24.

God declares whence it is that none can hide from his presence or escape his justice. It is from his omnipresence; he is everywhere, and all places are alike unto him. Adam when he had sinned went behind a tree; and others, they would go under rocks and mountains; but all is one, vengeance will find them out. This is that δίκη which the barbarians thought would not let a murderer live, however he might escape for a season, Acts 28:4.

Obs. 20. Great works of providence are a great means of instruction; and a neglect of them, as to their instructive end, is a great aggravation of the sin of those who live when and where they are performed.

“They saw my works,” saith God, works great and wonderful, and yet continued in their sin and disobedience. This heightened their sin, and hastened their punishment. We shall take an instance in one of the works here intended, which will acquaint us with the design, end, and use of them all; and this shall be the appearance of the majesty of God on mount Sinai at the giving of the law. The works accompanying it consisted much in things miraculous, strange, and unusual, — as thunder, lightning, fire, smoke, earthquakes, the sound of a trumpet, and the like. The usual working of the minds of men towards these unusual effects of the power of God, is to gaze on them with admiration and astonishment. This God forbids in them: Exodus 19:21, “Charge the people, lest they breakthrough unto the LORD to gaze.” This is not the end or design of God in these works of his power, in these appearances and evidences of his majesty, that men should gaze at them to satisfy their curiosity. What, then, was aimed at in and by them? It was to instruct them unto a due fear and awful reverence of God, whose holiness and majesty were represented unto them; that they might know him as “a consuming fire.” And this was declared in the issue. For the people coming up unto a due fear of God for the present, and promising obedience thereon, God took it well of them, and approved it in them, as that which answered the design of his works: Deuteronomy 5:23-29,

“And it came to pass, when ye heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, (for the mountain did burn with fire,) that ye came near unto me” (these are the words of Moses to the people), “even all the heads of your tribes, and your elders; and ye said, Behold, the LORD our God hath shewed us his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire:… Now therefore why should we diet for this great fire will consume us…

Go thou near and hear all that the LORD our God shall say; and speak thou unto us all that the LORD our God shall speak unto thee; and we will hear it, and do it. And the LORD heard the voice of your words when ye spake unto me; and the LORD said unto me, I have heard the voice of the words of this people, which they have spoken unto thee: they have well said all that they have spoken. Oh that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!”

God never casts “bruta fulmina;” all his works are vocal. They speak, or rather he speaks in them. Now, that they may be instructive unto us, sundry things are required: —

[1.] That we take notice of them, and notice of them to be his. Some are so stayed, or so obstinate, or so full of self and other things, that they will take no notice at all of any of the works of God. His hand is lifted up, and they will not see, they will not behold it. He passeth by them in his works on the right hand and on the left, but they perceive it not. Others, though they take notice of the works themselves, yet they will not take notice of them to be his; like the Philistines, they knew not whether the strange plague that consumed them and destroyed their cities were God’s hand or a chance. But until we seriously consider them, and really own them to be the works of God, we can make no improvement of them.

[2.] We are to inquire into the especial meaning of them. This is wisdom, and that which God requireth at our hands: so Micah 6:9,

“The voice of the LORD crieth unto the city, and the man of wisdom shall see thy name: hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it,”

קוֹל יְהָֹוה, “The voice of the LORD,” is often taken for the power of God manifesting itself in its effects and mighty works. In this sense it is repeated six or seven times in one psalm, Psalms 29:3-9. The voice of God here, then, is the works of God. And what do they do? They have a voice, they “cry to the city.” The voice of God in his rod doth so; that is, his afflicting and correcting works, as in the end of the verse. It cries לָעִיר, “to the city;” that is, the city of God, Jerusalem, or the church: though some think that לָעִירis put for לְהַעִיר“ad excitandum;” it cries to excite or stir up men, — that is, to repentance and amendment. And what is the issue? תוּשִׁיָּהּ, “The man of wisdom,” say we, — it is wisdom, or rather substance, that is, the substantial wise man, who gives no place to vanity and lightness, — he “shall see the name of God:” that is, he shall discern the power and wisdom of God in his works; and not only so, but the mind of God also in them, which is often signified by his “name.” See John 17:6. And so it follows, “Hear ye the rod;” they are works of the rod, or correction, that he speaks of. This he commands us to “hear;” that is, to understand. So שָמַעfrequently signifies. So speak the servants of Hezekiah to Rabshakeh, Isaiah 36:11, “Speak, we pray thee, unto thy servants in the Syrian language, כִּי שֹׁמְעִים אֲנָחְנוּ,” — for we hear it;” that is, can understand it. So are we to “hear the rod;” that is, to learn and understand the mind of God in his works. This is required of us. And that we may do so, two things are necessary: —

1st. That we consider and be well acquainted with our own condition. If we are ignorant hereof we shall understand nothing of the mind of God in his dispensations. Security in sin will take away all understanding of judgments. Let God thunder from heaven in the revelation of his wrath against sin, yet such persons will be secure still. God doth not often utterly destroy men with great and tremendous destructions before he hath given them previous warnings of his indignation. But yet men that are secure in sin will know so little of the sense of them, that they will be crying “Peace and safety,” when their final destruction is seizing upon them, 1 Thessalonians 5:3. God speaks out the curse of the law in his worksof judgment; for thereby is “the wrath of God revealed from heaven against the ungodliness of men,” Romans 1:18. But yet when men hear the voiceof the curse so spoken out, if they are secure, they will bless themselves, and say they shall have peace, though they add drunkenness to thirst, Deuteronomy 29:19. And this for the most part blinds the eyes of thewise men of this world. They neither see nor understand any of the works of God, though never so full of dread or terror, because being secure in their sin, they know not that they have any concernment in them. If they do at any time attend unto them, it is as the people did to the voice that came from heaven unto our Savior; — some said it thundered, others, that an angel spake. One says one thing of them, another, another thing, but they endeavor not to come unto any certainty about them. This is complained of Isaiah 26:11, “LORD, when thy hand is lifted up, theywill not see.” The lifting up of the hand in general is to work or to effect any thing; in particular, to correct, to punish, it being the posture of one ready to strike, or redoubling his blows in striking; as God doth when his “judgments are in the earth,” Isaiah 26:9. In this state of things, saith the prophet, “They will not see;” they will neither consider nor endeavor to understand the mind of God in his works and judgments. And how doth God take this of them? Saith he, “The fire of thine enemies shall devour them;” that is, either their own fiery envy at the people of God, mentioned in the foregoing words, shall consume themselves, — they shall be eaten up and consumed with it, whilst they will not take notice of the mind of God in his judgments towards them; or, ‘the fire wherewith at length thou wilt consume all thine adversaries shall fall upon them;’or, lastly, ‘thou wilt turn in upon them a wicked, furious people, who shall destroy them,’ — as it befell the Jews, to whom he speaks in particular. One way or otherGod will severely revenge this security, and neglect of his works thereon. But they who will wisely consider their own condition, — how it is between God and them, — wherein they have been faithful, wherein false or backsliding, — what controversy God hath, or may justly have with them, — what is the condition of the state, church, or nation whereunto they do belong, — will discern the voice of God in his great works of providence. So is the matter stated, Daniel 12:10, “Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.” And when shall this be? When there is “a time of great trouble,” Daniel 12:1, — when God’s judgments are greatly in the world. The end of these troubles is to purify men, to cleanse them, by the removal of all “filth of flesh and spirit” that they may have contracted, as dross is taken away from silver in the furnace; and to make them white, by causing their sincerity, constancy, and perseverance in their holy profession to appear in their trials. But the wicked men, secure in their sins, shall yet continue in their wicked-nest, and thereby shall be so blinded that none of them shall understand the mind of God in his great works and tremendous dispensations. But המַּשְׁכִּילִים, “they that have an understanding” in their own state and condition, and in the state of things in the church of God (as it is said of the men of Issachar, that they were יוֹדְעֵי בִינָה לָעִתִּים, “knowing in the seasons”), “they shall understand,” or come to the knowledge of the will of God and their duty in these things And of a failure herein see how God complains, Deuteronomy 32:28-29.

2dly. That we consider what peculiar impressions of his will God puts upon any of his works. Hereby we may know much of his mind and design in them. All the works of God, if duly considered, will be found to bear his image and superscription. They are all like him, were sent by him, and are becoming him. They have on them tokens and marks of infinite wisdom, power, and goodness. Those of providence which he intends to be instructive have a peculiar impression of the design of God upon them, and a wise man may see the eye of God in them. So he speaks in the psalmist, “I will guide thee with mine eye,” Psalms 32:8. He would make him see the way and paths that he was to walk in, by that respect which he would have unto them in the works of his providence. This, then, I say, we should inquire after and wisely consider; because, —

Obs. 21. The greater evidence that God gives of his power and goodness in any of his works, the louder is his voice in them, and the greater is the sin of them that neglect them; which also is another proposition from the words.

God made then his works evident unto them, so that they saw them, — “They saw my works;” so they could not deny them to be his. But if men will shut their eyes against the light, they justly perish in their darkness. God sometimes hides his power, Habakkuk 3:4, “That was the hiding of his power.” That is, as the Targumist adds, it was laid open; his power, that before was hid from the people, was now manifested. But sometimes he causeth it to shine forth; as it is said in the same place, “He had horns coming out of his hand,” — קַרְנַיִם מִיָּדוֹ לוֹ“Horns,” or shining beams, rays of glory, arose from his hand, or his power, in the manifestation of it in his works. He caused his power to shine forth in them, as the sun gives out light in its full strength and beauty. Then for men not to take notice of them will be a signal aggravation of their sin and hastening of their punishment. Now, we can never know what appears of God in his works, unless by a due consideration of them we endeavor to understand them or his mind in them. Again, —

Obs. 22. Because the end of all God’s works, of his mighty works of providence towards a person, a church, or nation, is to bring them to faith and repentance; which is also another observation that the words afford us.

This end he still declared in all his dealings with this people. And it is the principal design of the Book of Deuteronomy to improve the works of God which they had seen unto this end. And

“who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them, but the transgressors shall fall therein,” Hosea 14:9.

And herein lies a great aggravation of the misery of the days wherein we live, — the works, the great works of God, are generally either despised or abused. Some account all that is spoken of them ὡσεὶ λῆρος, as a mere fable, as some did of old the things concerning the resurrection of Christ, upon the first report of it, Luke 24:11. And if they are not so in themselves, but that such things as are spoken of are done in the world, yet as to their relation unto God they esteem it a fable. Chance, natural causes, vulgar errors, popular esteem, were the originals with such persons of all those great works of God which our eyes have seen or our ears heard, or which our fathers have reported unto us. “Brutish persons and unwise!” there is scarce a leaf in the book of God, or a day in the course of his providence, that doth not judge and condemn the folly and stupidity of their pride. The very heathen of old either by reason scorned, or by experience were made afraid, to give countenance unto such atheism. Nor do I esteem such persons, who live in an open rebellion against all that is within them and without them, against all that God hath done or said, worthy any consideration.

“Because they regard not the works of the LORD, nor the operation of his hands, he shall destroy them, and not build them up,” Psalms 28:5.

Others will not deny God to be in his works, but they make no use of them but to gaze, admire, and talk. There is somewhat less evil in this than in the former atheism, but no good at all. Yea, where God multiplies his calls by his works, men by this slight consideration of them insensibly harden their hearts into security. Others abuse them, — some by making them the rise of their vain and foolish prognostications: ‘There is such a prodigy, such a strange work of God, such a blazing star,’or the like. What then? ‘Such or such a thing shall follow this or that year, this or that month.’This is a specious way whereby atheism exalts itself; for nothing can give countenance to these presumptions but a supposition of such a concatenation of causes and effects as shall exclude the sovereign government of God over the world. Others contend about them; some whose lives are profligate, and whose ways are wicked, are afraid lest they should be looked on as pointed against them and their sins, and therefore they contend that they have no determinate language, no signification in them. Others are too forward to look upon them as sent or wrought to countenance them in their desires, ways, and aims. Amongst most, by these and the like means, the true design of God in all his great and strange works is utterly lost, to the great provocation of the eyes of his glory. This, as I have showed, is every man’s faith, repentance, and obedience; which how they have been improved in us by them we may do well to consider. Again, observe from the words that, —

Obs. 23. God is pleased ofttimes to grant great outward means unto those in whom he will not work effectually by his grace.

Who had more of the first than these Israelites in the wilderness? As the works of God amongst them were the greatest and most stupendous that ever he had wrought from the foundation of the world, so the law was first vocally given unto them and promulgated amongst them; and not only so, but they had the gospel also preached unto their ears as we, — not so clearly, indeed, but no less truly, Hebrews 4:1-2. See their privileges and advantages as they are enumerated by our apostle, Romans 3:2; Romans 9:4-5. God might well say of them as he did afterwards of their posterity, “What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it?” Isaiah 5:4; — for fencing, and planting, and stoning, nothing more could have been done. Outward means, ordinances, afflictions, mercies, they wanted not; and yet all this while God did not circumcise their hearts to love him with all their heart, and all their soul, that they might live, as he promiseth at other times to do, Deuteronomy 30:6 : yea, it is said expressly that he gave them not eyes to see, or ears to hear, that they might know him and fear him. He did not put forth or exercise an effectual work of inward grace during their enjoyment of the outward means before mentioned. And therefore, when God promiseth to make the covenant of grace under the gospel effectual unto the elect, by writing his law in their hearts, and putting his fear into their inward parts, he says expressly and emphatically that he will not make it as he made that with the people in the wilderness; and that for this reason, because they (that is, the generality of them) had only the outward administration of it, and did not enjoy this effectual communication of saving grace, which is there called a writing of the law in our hearts, and putting of the fear of God in our inward parts, Hebrews 8:8-12, from Jeremiah 31:31-34. In like manner, when our Lord Jesus Christ preached the gospel unto all, yet it was to some only to whom it was given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, Matthew 13:11-16. I know some are displeased at this; but for the most part they are such as will be pleased with nothing that God either doeth or saith, or can do or say, unless he would give them a law or a gospel to save them in and with their sins. They are ready to dispute that God is unjust if he give not grace to every man, to use or abuse at his pleasure, whilst themselves hate grace and despise it, and think it not worth acceptance if laid at their doors. But thus God dealt with this people in the wilderness; yea, they had means of obedience granted them after he had sworn they should die for their disobedience. And who art thou, O man, that disputest against God? Nay, the righteousness of God in this matter is clear and conspicuous; for, —

[1.] God is not obliged to grant any especial privilege, even as unto the outward means of grace, unto any of the sons of men. And to show his sovereignty and absolute freedom herein, he always granted them with great variety in a distinguishing manner. So he did of old: “He shewed his word” ( דְּבָרָיוֻ, “his words,” that is, his institutions)

“unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation; and as for his judgments, they have not known them,” Psalms 147:19-20.

These outward means themselves were their peculiar privilege and enclosure. This was the advantage of the Jews, that “unto them,” and unto them alone, “were committed the oracles of God,” Romans 3:2. And God, as he gave and granted these outward means of grace to them alone, so he might have justly denied them unto them also; or else he might have granted them unto all others and withheld them from them. For he dealt not thus with them because they were in and of themselves in any thing better than those who were excluded from their privileges, Deuteronomy 7:6-9. And thus God dealeth still, even unto this day, with the nations of the world; some he intrusteth with the gospel, and some have not the sound of it approaching unto them. Man would not abide in the condition wherein God made him, Ecclesiastes 7:29; and God may justly leave him in the condition wherein by sin he hath cast himself. That he will afford outward means unto any is of mere grace, liberality, and bounty. And shall we say he is unjust if he give no more, when no rule or law of justice obligeth him unto what he doth? Men may by such means and apprehensions sooner provoke God to take away what they have than to add to them what they have not. A beggar’s murmuring as though he had not his due, when any thing is given him, is the worst way of getting his alms increased.

[2.] Even outward means themselves, when singly dispensed, have many blessed ends which shall be effected by them; for they all tend variously to the glory of God. This, I acknowledge, is despised by men of profane and wicked principles, who have no concernment therein. Men whom nothing will satisfy but the making of all grace so common as that it should be prostituted unto the corrupt wills of men, to be used or abused at their pleasure, as indeed they utterly evert all effectual grace, so they must find another scripture to countenance them in their opinion. The Book of God will not do it. They measure things merely by their own advantage. But to those that know God and love him this is of great weight. That the wisdom, holiness, goodness, righteousness, and severity of God, be exalted and glorified, as they are in the dispensation of the outward means of grace, though eventually not effectual unto the salvation of some, is a matter of great rejoicing unto all that do believe. Again, they may redound unto the great advantage of men, and that both in this world and unto eternity. So saith our Savior, Matthew 11:23

“And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained unto this day.”

The exaltation of Capernaum consisted in its enjoyment of the outward means of grace, in the preaching and miracles of our Savior; and although the end of all was that she was to be brought down to hell for her obstinacy in unbelief, yet whilst she enjoyed these things she had a real privilege, and was much exalted thereby. And there might have been a use of these means, which although it would not have delivered Capernaum from hell at last, because not prevalent against final impenitency, yet it might have delivered it from that hell of temporal destruction which befell it not long after, as prevailing against their open and professed obstinacy. And so Sodom, had she been intrusted with the like means of instruction, might have continued in her outward state and condition by such a use of them unto that or unto this day. For there may be such a conviction of sin as may produce that repentance and humiliation which will avert temporal judgments, which will not produce repentance unto salvation and deliverance from judgments eternal. And this renders the gospel the greatest privilege and advantage of any kingdom or nation in the world, and their principal interest to maintain it. Whatever work God is pleased to do secretly and effectually on the hearts of any, to bring them to the eternal enjoyment of himself, the very outward dispensation of the gospel itself is suited to bring forth that profession and amendment of life in all which shall secure unto them the enjoyment of peace and tranquillity in this world. Besides, the taking off of men from their present sinful courses will tend to the mitigation of their future punishment or a diminution of their stripes. There are, then, many mercies in this one of the outward means of grace, considered absolutely and in itself.

[3.] Where God grants the use of the outward means of grace to any, ordinarily, if not always, he hath a design to communicate by them especial saving grace unto some. These means granted unto the people in the wilderness, where they seem to have had as sad an event as ever they had anywhere in the world, yet were not lost as to their end and use of the conveyance of especial grace towards some. Some, yea doubtless many, were converted unto God by them, and made obedient. That they died in the wilderness is no argument as unto individuals that they died in final unbelief, — no, though we should conclude that they died all penally; for they did so as they were members and parts of that people, that provoking generation, which God dealt withal according to the demerit of the community. And so, many men may fall and be cut off penally in national desolations, as those desolations are just punishments for the sins of that nation, though they themselves were not personally guilty of them. So the daughters of Zelophehad state the matter, Numbers 27:3,

“Our father died in the wilderness, and he was not in the company of them that gathered themselves together against the LORD but died in his own sin.”

He was a sinner as all men are, and so on his own personal account there was no reason to complain of his dying in the wilderness; but yet he had no hand in those especial provocations for which God was so displeased as that he cut them off signally in his wrath, and finally. But he, it may be, and many others of them doubtless, had the spiritually efficacious benefit of the means of grace which they enjoyed. The matter is plain in Caleb, Joshua, and others, and a great multitude of the new generation, who believed and entered into rest. Now, the saving of one soul is worth the preaching of the gospel to a whole nation, and that for many years. And whilst God carries on his work visibly, he will take care secretly that not one hidden grain of his Israel shall fall unto the ground.

To sum up this whole matter: These outward means are granted unto men in a way of grace, favor, and bounty. Their ends, singly considered, are good, holy, and righteous. Moreover, they are all of them properly effectual in that they always attain the end whereunto they are designed.

And that men are not bettered by them, or more advantaged than they are, is merely from their own pravity and obstinacy. And those who approve not of this dispensation seem to have a great mind to contend with Him who is mightier than they.

Furthermore, from the exposition before premised we may observe, that, —

Obs. 24. No privilege, no outward means of grace, no other advantage whatever, will secure men in a course of sinning from the wrath and justice of God.

Who could be made partakers of more things of that kind than were this people at that time? Besides the great privilege derived unto them from their fathers, in that they were the posterity of Abraham, the friend of God, and had the token of his covenant in their flesh, they had newly erected amongst them a glorious church-state, wherein they were intrusted with all the ordinances of God’s worship. These privileges the apostle sums up, Romans 9:4-5,

“Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers.”

“The adoption” was theirs; God had no other children or family in the world but them, — they were his family when his curse was upon all other families of the earth. And “the glory” was theirs; it was unto them and amongst them that God so manifested his glory as that it became their glory, their glory above all the nations of the world. And “the covenants” were theirs; both the covenant that was made with Abraham, in all the benefits of it, and the especial covenant that God made with them at Sinai. There also was the law given unto them, and the solemn worship of God, in all the laws and ordinances thereof, made their peculiar. What works of providence God wrought amongst them we have declared. Doubtless they bare themselves high on these things. So when they contended with Moses and Aaron, their plea was, “that all the people was holy,” so that they saw no reason for their peculiar preeminence. And who also amongst the sons of men is not ready on far less occasions so to do? Some cry they are the church, and some boast of other things; but be men what they will, their privileges and advantages what they can desire, if they are secure and obstinate sinners, the wrath of God at one time or other will overtake them. And some will one day find to their sorrow what their boasting will cost them. Laodicea hath done so long ago; and so in due time will she who says, “I sit as a queen, and shall see no sorrow.” For although the hand of church -privilege should join in with the hand of secular advantage, yet the guilty shall not go unpunished. And one reason hereof lies in another proposition that ariseth from the words, namely, that, —

Obs. 25. There are determinate bounds fixed unto God’s patience and forbearance towards obstinate sinners.

So here he assigned the space of forty years for the consumption of this provoking generation. And as in the point of promise it is observed, that the very same night wherein the time limited was accomplished the people were delivered out of Egypt; so in the point of threatening it is remembered, that at the end of forty years, wherein the people wandered in the wilderness, there was not one remaining of those who were first numbered in Horeb. However men may flatter and please themselves, nothing can secure sinners from punishment in the appointed season. See 2 Peter 3:8-10.

Secondly, We shall now proceed to the last thing contained in the example insisted on by the apostle; and that is, the consequent of the sin of the people in their punishment. And this is expressed, —

1. In the procuring cause of it, — that in the sense God had of their sin, it grieved him: “Wherefore I was grieved with that generation.” The meaning of the words, both in the psalm and in this place, hath been before declared. It expresseth how God stood affected towards the people, as to the inward frame of his heart; for these, affections doth God take upon himself for our instruction. He says that he will

“rejoice over his people, assuredly with his whole heart and his whole soul,” Jeremiah 32:41;

and upon the account of their sin it is said, that it “grieved him at his heart that he had made man on the earth,” Genesis 6:6. And these expressions, wherever they are used, are signs of great and signal actions So in the last case mentioned, God said “it grieved him at his heart,” because he was going to do that which could proceed from no principle that we can apprehend but great trouble and molestation. That, then, which is here intended is such a σχέσις, such a “frame” or “habit” of mind or heart in God, as had the people of that generation for its object. It is not, then, λύπη, “dolor,” or “grief,” properly so called, that is here intended; neither does either of the words here used, the one by the psalmist, the other by the apostle, express that passion: for although God ascribes it often unto himself, yet it is not here intended, but rather indignation and trouble. He was burdened, vexed, displeased beyond what patience or forbearance could extend unto. In brief, it includes these two things: —

(1.) The judgment or mind of God concerning the greatness of their sin, with all its aggravations; and,

(2.) His determinate will of punishing them. Hence we may observe that, —

Obs. 26. The heart of God is greatly concerned in the sins of men, especially of those who on any account are his people, and so esteemed.

Men live, and act, and speak, as if they thought God very little concerned in what they do, especially in their sins; that either he takes no notice of them, or if he do, that he is not much concerned in them. That he should be grieved at his heart, — that is, have such a deep sense of men’s sinful provocations — they have no mind to think or believe. They think that, as to thoughts about sin, God is altogether as themselves, Psalms 50:21. But it is otherwise; for God hath, —

(1.) A concernment of honor in what we do. He made us for his glory and honor; nothing whereof can we any way assign unto him but by our obedience; and whatever is contrary hereunto tends directly to his dishonor. And this God cannot but be deeply sensible of. He cannot deny himself. If men lose the rent which they expect from their tenants, and have obliged them to pay, and which they refuse upon mere will and stubbornness, they will find themselves to have a concernment therein; and shall God lose all the revenue that is due unto him, without expressing an indignation against the guilt of men who deal so unjustly and fraudulently with him? Nay, he is deeply concerned in this matter, as he is our sovereign Lord.

(2.) He is concerned in point of justice also, as he is the supreme ruler and governor of all the works of his own hands He is God, to whom vengeance doth belong, who hath said, “Vengeance is mine, and I will recompense.” And he needs no other reason to induce him to punish sin but himself, his holiness and his justice being his nature. And this he expresseth after the manner of men, affirming that he is grieved, or vexed and provoked to indignation, with the sins of men. How this provocation is heightened by this aggravation of sin, that it is committed by his own people, under peculiar, unspeakable, obligations unto obedience, hath been declared before.

2. Proceed we with the exposition of the words There is in them the judgment that God made and gave concerning this people and their sin, which is expressed as the reason why he was grieved with them: “He said, They do always err in their hearts; and my ways they have not known.”

“He said;” — not that God expressly used these words, but he made this judgment concerning them. This was the sense he had conceived of them. So the word is most frequently used for the conception of the mind. It is the λόγοςἐνδιάθετος, or “sense of the mind,” not the λόγος προφορικός, or “outward expression,” that is intended.

And in this judgment which God passed on that sinful generation he declares three things: —

(1.) The principle of all their sins, they did “err in their hearts”

(2.) Their constancy in or obstinacy unto this principle, — they did so “always”

(3.) The consequent, or rather concomitant evil unto or with these, — they knew not the ways of the Lord: “And they have not known my ways.”

(1.) God placeth the original of all their miscarriages in their error, — the error of their hearts. An error of the heart in things moral, is a practical misjudging of what is good or evil unto men. So this people, through the power of their lusts sad darkness, their temptations and obstinacy, did, in many instances wherein they were tried, judge that sin and rebellion were better for them than faith, submission, and obedience. They did not in general notionally and formally judge that sin, as sin, was better than obedience, which no creature is capable of doing; but practically and particularly they judged that it was better for them to do the things wherein their sin consisted than to omit or forego them: so they “erred in their hearts.” There the seat of their error is fixed. Now, besides that the heart is here, as in sundry other places, taken for the practical understanding, or for the whole principle of all our moral actions, as it regards both the mind, will, and affections, the expression seems to intend a further discovery of the nature of their sin, with a further aggravation of it. They sinned from and with their hearts; and God lets them know that he doth not so much insist on their outward actions, as that he took notice that their hearts were not right with him. That was the principle of all their rebellions, for which he abhorred them. As he spake in another place of the same people, when their hearts went after their idols, “he regarded them not.”

(2.) The adjunct of this their error is their constancy unto it, or persistency in it: “They do always err.” Two things may be denoted hereby:

[1.] That in all instances, whenever it came to a trial, they practically chose the wrong side. It may be they did not so universally, but they did so generally, which warrants the denomination. Or,

[2.] It denotes the continuance in their error; ἀεί is, “not to cease” or “give over.” Though God had exercised great patience and forbearance towards them for a long season, yet they would never change their minds or hearts at any time.

(3.) There is the consequent of this great principle of their sin, or rather, another concomitant principle of their miscarriages, — they knew not the ways of God: “And they have not known my ways.” This may be exegetical of the former, and declare wherein their error consisted, namely, in this, that they knew not, they judged not aright of the ways of God. But, as I said, I shall rather look upon it as another principle of their miscarriages. As they erred in their hearts because they liked the ways of sin, so they disliked the ways of God because they knew them not, and from both rushed into all manner of miscarriages and provocations. We are hence instructed first, that, —

Obs. 27. In all the sins of men God principally regards the principle; that is, the heart, or what is in it.

“They do err,” saith he, “in their hearts.” The heart he principally requires in our obedience; and this he principally regards in men’s disobedience. “My son,” saith he, “give me thine heart;” and, “O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me!” When the heart is upright, as to its general frame, design, and principle, God will bear with many failings, many miscarriages. And when it is false, and gone off from God, thousands of duties are of no esteem with him. We know little, yea, directly nothing, of the hearts of men; and a man would therefore think that we should little concern ourselves in them, or not at all, but merely rest satisfied in outward acts and effects, wherein our concernment lies. But yet even amongst us it is quite otherwise. If once a man begins justly to suspect that the hearts of them with whom he hath to do be not upright with him, but false and guileful, let them pretend what they will, and act what they please, all is utterly disregarded and despised. So saith he, Hom. II. i. 312, —

᾿εχθρὸς γάρ μοι κεῖνος, ὁμῶς ᾿αϊδάο πύλῃσιν,

῝ος χ᾿ ἕτερον μὲν κεύθει, ἐνὶ φρεσὶν, ἄλλο δὲ βάζει·

“I hate him like the gates of hell, who, pretending fairly to me, reserves other’things in his mind.”

And if it be thus with men, who judge of the hearts of others only by effects, and that with a judgment liable to be inflamed by groundless suspicions and corrupt imaginations, how much more must it be so with God, before whose eyes all the hearts of men lie open and naked, whose glory and property it is to be καρδιογνώστης, — the judge, searcher, knower of all hearts? Again, —

Obs. 28. The error of the heart in the preferring the ways of sin before obedience, with its promises and rewards, is the root of all great provoking sins and rebellions against God.

Many sins are the effects of men’s impetuous lusts and corruptions; many they are hurried into by the power and efficacy of their temptations; most are produced by both these in conjunction; — but as for great provocations, such as carry in them apostasy, or rebellion against God, they proceed from a deceiving and a deceived heart. There are many noisome and hurtful errors in the world, but this is the great soul-mining error, when the heart is practically corrupted to prefer sin and its wages before obedience and its reward. It seems, indeed, a hard and difficult thing to do this notionally, especially for such as admit of any sense of eternity. But yet the contrary hereunto, namely, to prefer obedience, with its promises and rewards, consisting in things future and invisible, unto sin and its present ways, is expressed as an act or fruit of faith, and which nothing else will enable us unto. This was the evidence of the faith of Moses, that he

“chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater fiches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward,” Hebrews 11:25-26.

And so the apostle expresseth the working of faith in this matter: 2 Corinthians 4:18,

“While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

It is the work of faith so to look into, so to see and discern invisible and eternal things, as on their account to prefer obedience unto God, with afflictions, temptations, and persecutions, unto sin, with all its present pleasures and wages. But, practically, this is frequently found amongst men. And how this is brought about or effected; how the mind is prejudiced and obstructed, as to its making a right judgment concerning its rules; how it is diverted from a due consideration of the things and reasons that should influence it, and lead it thereunto; how it is entangled and seduced unto present approbation of appearing satisfactions; and how the will is thereby deceived into a consent unto sin, I have declared in a particular discourse to that purpose. (5) In brief, when the directive part of the mind is diverted from attending unto the reason of things proposed unto it; when it is corrupted by false pretences imposed on it by the outrage of corrupt lusts and affections, which have possessed the imagination with their objects and their present deceivableness; when the judging, accusing faculty of it is baffled, slighted, and at least partially silenced, as wearied with doing its work in vain, and accustomed to repulses; when in its reflective acts, whereby it should receive impressions from its own self-accusations and reproofs, it is made obtuse, hard, and senseless, not regarding what is spoken in it or to it; and when by these means carnal affections bear sway in the soul, impetuously inclining it to seek after their satisfaction, then is the heart under the power of the error we speak of, — that error which is the principle of all great provocations and apostasies from God.

For,

[1.] This sets all the lusts of the soul at liberty to seek after their satisfaction in sin;

[2.] Makes it slight and contemn all the promises annexed unto obedience; and,

[3.] Disregard the threatenings that lie against sin, and so prepares it for the utmost rebellion.

And of all errors let us take heed of this practical error of the heart. It is not men’s being orthodox, or sound in their opinions, that will relieve them if they are under the power of this great, fundamental error. And it is a matter to be lamented, to see how men will contest for their opinions under the name of truth, and cast manner of severe reflections on those that oppose them, whilst themselves err in their hearts, and know not the ways of God. And this is a frame which of all others God most abhorreth; for when men pretend to be for him, and are really against him, as all such are, shall not the Searcher of hearts find it out? Orthodox liars, swearers, drunkards, adulterers, oppressors, persecutors, are an unspeakable burden unto the patience of God. Again, —

Obs. 29. A constant persistency in a course of sin is the utmost, highest, and last aggravation of sin.

“They do always err,” — in every instance of obedience, and that continually. This filled up their measure; for herein consists that finishing of sin which brings forth death, James 1:15. Sin may be conceived and brought forth, and yet death not ensue. But if it be finished, if men err in their hearts always, inevitable destruction will be the consequent of it. This, as was said, is the highest and last aggravation of sin; for, —

[1.] It includes a neglect and contempt of all times and seasons of amendment. God gives unto men, especially those who live under the dispensation of the word, many peculiar times or seasons for their recovery. They have their day, their especial day, wherein they ought in an especial manner to look after the things of their peace, as hath been declared. It may be this day is often revived to the persons spoken of, and often returned upon them; but it is as often despised and neglected by them.

[2.] It includes a rejection and disappointment of the means of repentance which God is pleased graciously to afford unto them. During the season of his patience towards sinners, God is pleased to grant unto them sundry means and advantages for their amendment, and that in great variety; but they are all rejected and rendered fruitless in an unchanged course of sinning.

[3.] It includes a contempt of the whole work of conscience from first to last. Many assistances conscience doth receive in its work: convictions from the word, excitations by judgments, mercies, dangers, deliverances; but yet in this condition all its actings are baffled and despised. And what can be more done against God? what can add to the guilt of such sin and sinners? And this may serve to justify God in his severity against persons that “always err in their hearts,” that continue in a course of sinning. In the day when the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed, and all transactions between God and the souls of men laid open, the holiness, righteousness, and just severity of God against impenitent sinners, will on these and other accounts be gloriously displayed.

Obs. 30. None despise or desert the ways of God but those that know them not.

For whatever they may profess, yet indeed profligate sinners know neither God nor his ways: “They err in their hearts; and have not known my ways.” Who would seem more fully to have known the ways of God than this people? The ways of his providence, wherein he walked towards them, and the ways of his law, wherein they were to walk towards him, were all before them. They saw the former themselves, and that appearance of the power, wisdom, and greatness of God in them, as never had any generation of men from the foundation of the world. And for the ways of his law and worship, who should know them if they did not? They heard God himself proclaiming his own law on mount Sinai, and had it afterwards written by him in tables of stone; and for the residue of his institutions, they received them by fresh revelation, seeing them all exemplified in the erection of the tabernacle and practice of the service of it. And yet all this while, being unbelieving and obdurate, “they knew not the ways of God;” nay, though they professed that they knew them, and that they would observe them, yet in truth they knew them not. And such were their posterity and successors in unbelief and disobedience, of whom the apostle speaks, Titus 1:16,

“They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.”

So was it with this people; so it is with all that despise the ways of God. Whatever they profess, — as some of them will be forward enough to profess much, — yet indeed they know not God or his ways. So our Savior tells the Pharisees, that, notwithstanding all their boasting of their wisdom, skill, and knowledge of the law, and of God himself, yet being, as they were, proud, hypocritical self-justiciaries, that they had not indeed “heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape,” John 5:37; that is; that they had no real acquaintance with him or knowledge of him. Whatever notion such persons have or may have of the ways of God, whatever skill in the outward letter of his laws and institutions, yet they know neither the righteousness, nor the holiness, nor the efficacy, nor the usefulness, nor the beauty of any of them. These things are spiritually discerned, and they are spiritually blind; these are spirit and life, and they are flesh, and dead. And all this is evident from men’s despising of the ways of God or their dereliction of them. This none can do but those that know them not; for, “they that know the name of the LORD,” — that is, any of the ways whereby he reveals himself, — “will put their trust in him,” Psalms 9:10. They will forsake neither him nor them. What Paul speaks in a way of extenuation as to some of the Jews, “Had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of life,” we may apply by way of exprobration unto some: ‘Had they known the ways of God, as once they professed they did, they would not have forsaken them.’And this may support us against the offenses and scandals that are in the world upon the account of the apostasies of professors. Some that have professed religion in its power turn sensual worldlings; some who have professed it in its truth, as Protestants, turn Papists and idolaters. Shall any reflection be taken from hence, or be cast on the right ways of God, as though they were such as deserved to be deserted? Whatever men, such men, have pretended or professed, the truth is, they never knew the ways of God in their light, power, efficacy, or beauty. Julian, that infamous apostate, was wont to boast concerning the Scriptures, “That he had read them, known them, and condemned them.” Unto whom it was truly replied, “That if he had read them, yet he understood or knew them not;” of which there needed no other evidence but that he condemned them.

3. “Unto whom I sware in my wrath, that they should not enter into my rest.” This is the last thing that remaineth to be considered; and it is the issue or event of the sin before declared, — what it came to in the holiness and righteousness of God, and what was the punishment that was inflicted on the offenders. And in this decretory sentence of God concerning this people, after all their temptations and provocations, there is considerable, —

(1.) The irrevocableness of the sentence denounced against them. It is not any longer a mere threatening, but a sentence irreversibly passed, and enrolled in the court of heaven, and committed for execution unto the honor, power, and veracity of God; for he “sware” unto it, or confirmed it by his oath. All mere promises or threatenings whatever about temporal things have a tacit condition included in them. This, as occasion requires, is drawn forth, so as to alter and change the event promised or threatened. But when God interposeth with his oath, it is to exclude all reserves on such tacit conditions, — it is to show that the time wherein they might take place or be of use is elapsed. And the threatening so confirmed becomes an absolute sentence. And until it comes unto this, the state of sinners is not absolutely deplorable. But when the oath of God is gone out against them, all reserves for mercy, all former allowances of conditions are utterly cut off. And this is not the state only of them concerning whom it is recorded in an especial manner that he did so swear; but in such instances God shows what is the way of his holiness and severity with all sinners who fall into the like provocations with them. For hereon doth the apostle ground his exhortation and caution, Hebrews 4:11,

“Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief;”

but if the tenor of God’s dealings with such unbelievers were not absolutely the same, if the oath of God extended only unto that generation, though they fell, yet others might stand under the same guilt with them, which the apostle hence demonstrates to be otherwise.’

(2.) The greatness of their sin, in the great offense that God took at it, and the provocation which, as it were, befell him thereon: He “sware in his wrath;” that is, with great indignation. Let the place be read as before set down, where the frame of the heart of God towards them is expressed, and the greatness of his wrath and indignation will appear. Now, whereas the holy nature of God is not in itself capable of such commotions, of such smoking wrath and anger as are therein described and represented, the sole end of these expressions must needs be to show the heinousness of the sin that the people were guilty of. And herein lies an infinite condescension of God, in taking care to instruct some in and by his deserved wrath against others: for such weak and mean creatures are we, that we have need thus to be instructed in the holiness of God’s nature and the severity of his justice against sin; for whatever we may ween concerning ourselves, we are not indeed capable of any perfect notions or direct apprehensions of them, but stand in need to have them represented unto us by such effects as we can take in the species of into [our] minds.

(3.) There is in the words the punishment itself denounced against this provoking people, — that they should not enter into the rest of God. And there is a double aggravation of the punishment in the manner of the expressing of it: —

[1.] In the act denied: “They shall not enter,” — no, not so much as enter into it. Doubtless many of the people during their wanderings in the wilderness had great desires that they might at least see the place promised for a habitation to their posterity, and wherein all their future interests were to be stated. So in particular had Moses. He prayed, saying,

“I pray thee, let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon,” Deuteronomy 3:25.

So, doubtless, did many others of them pray and desire. But the sentence is passed, — they shall not now so much as enter into it, nor set one foot within its borders.

[2.] In the expression of the object denied there lieth another aggravation. He doth not say that they shall not enter into the land of Canaan, no, nor yet into the promised land; but he describes it by such an adjunct as may let them see the greatness of their sin and their punishment, and of his displeasure. “They shall not,” saith he, “enter into my rest;” — ‘It is my rest, the place where I will dwell, where I will fix my worship and make myself known: you shall not enter into my rest.’

And so have we passed through this passage of this chapter; on which though it may be we have seemed to dwell somewhat long, yet, as I suppose, not longer than the matter doth require, nor indeed so long as we should and would have done, but that sundry concerns of it will again occur unto us, both in this and the next chapter. Some few observations from the last clause of the words we may yet touch upon; as, —

Obs. 31. When God expresseth great indignation in himself against sin, it is to teach men the greatness of sin in themselves.

For that end is he said here to “swear in his wrath.” There are expressions in Scripture about God’s respect unto the sins of men that are strangely emphatical; as, — sometimes he is said to be “pressed under them as a cart is pressed that is laden with sheaves sometimes, that he is “made to serve with sin, and wearied with iniquity;” sometimes to be “broken” with the whorish heart of a people, and “grieved at the heart” that he had ever made such a creature as man; sometimes, that the sins of men are a “fume in his nostrils,” that which his soul loatheth; commonly, to be “angry,” “vexed,” and “grieved,” to be “wrathful,” “stirred up to fury,” and the like.

Now, all these things, taken properly, do include such alteration, and consequently imperfections and weaknesses, as the pure, holy, perfect nature of God can by no means admit of. What is it, then, that God intends by all these expressions, by these ascriptions of that unto himself which really is not in him, but might indeed justly befall that nature whereof we are partakers, on the supposition of the like occasions? As was said, it is all to express what indeed sin doth deserve, and that a recompence of revenge is to be expected, or that it is of so great a demerit as to excite all the perturbations mentioned in the nature of God, were it any way capable of them. So doth he make use of all ways and means to deter us from sin. And there is much of love, tenderness, and care in all these expressions of anger, wrath, and displeasure. So he is pleased to teach us, and such teachings do we stand in need of. Again, —

Obs. 32. God gives the same firmitude and stability unto his threatenings that he doth unto his promises.

He swears to them also, as he doth in this place. Men are apt secretly to harbor a supposition of a difference in this matter. The promises of God they think, indeed, are firm and stable; but as for his threatenings, they suppose one way or other they may be evaded. And this deceit hath greatly prevailed in and inflamed the minds of men ever since the first entrance of sin. By this deceit sin came into the world, — namely, that the threatenings of God either would not be accomplished, or that they were to be understood after another manner than was apprehended. ‘Hath God said so, that you shall die if you eat? Mistake not; that is not the meaning of the threatening; or, if it be, God doth not intend to execute it; it will be otherwise, and God knows it will be otherwise.’This gave sin its first entrance into the world; and the same deceit still prevails in the minds of men. ‘Hath God said that sinners shall die, shall be cursed, shall be cast into hell? Yea, but sure enough it will be otherwise; there will be one way or other of escape. It is good to affright men with these things, but God intends not so to deal with them. Whatever the threatenings be, many things may intervene to prevent their execution. What God promiseth, indeed, that shall come to pass; we may expect it and look for it; but as for these threatenings, they depend on so many conditions, and may so easily at any time be evaded, as that there is no great fear of their execution.’But what is the ground of this feigned difference between the promises and threatenings of God, as to their stability, certainty, and accomplishment? Where is the difference between the two clauses in that text, “He that believeth shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned ?” Are not the holiness of God and his faithfulness as much concerned in the comminatory part as in the promissory part of his word? Would not a failure in the one be as prejudicial to his glory as in the other? The principles from which his threatenings proceed are no less essential properties of his nature than those which are the springs of his promises; and his declaration of them is no less accompanied with the engagement of his veracity and faithfulness than that of the other; and the end aimed at in them is no less necessary to the demonstration of his glory than that which he designeth in his promises. And we see in this particular instance that they are also confirmed with the oath of God, even as his promises are. And let none think that this was an extraordinary case, and concerned only the men of that generation. This oath of God is part of his law, it abides for ever; and all that fall into the like sin with them, attended with the like circumstances, do fall under the same oath of God, — he swears concerning them, that they shall not enter into his rest. And we little know how many are even in this world overtaken in this condition, the oath of God lying against them for their punishment, and that eternal. Let men take heed of this great self-deceiving; and let not men be mockers in this matter, lest their bands be made strong; for, —

Obs. 23. When men have provoked God by their impenitency to decree their punishment irrevocably, they will find severity in the execution.

“They shall not enter,” — no, not so much as enter. “Behold,” saith our apostle, “the severity of God: on them which fell, severity,” Romans 11:22. Men will find that there is severity in the execution who despised the threatening, and that “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” When sinners shall see the whole creation on fire about them, hell open under them, and the glorious, dreadful Judge of all over them, they will begin to have a due apprehension of his terror. But then cries, outcries, repentings, and wailings, will be of no use. This is the time and place for such considerations, not when the sentence is executed, — no, not when it is irrevocably confirmed.

Obs. 24. It is the presence of God alone that renders any place or condition good or desirable.

“They shall not,” saith God, “enter into my rest.” This makes heaven to be heaven, and the church to be the church; — everything answers the manner and measure of the presence of God. And without this, Moses expressly preferred the wilderness before Canaan.


Verses 12-14

In the close of this chapter the apostle makes application of the example which he had produced out of the psalmist unto his present purpose; namely, to dehort the Hebrews from that sin which in them would answer unto the unbelief and disobedience of their forefathers, from the pernicious and destructive event which befell them thereon. And it must be still remembered that he presseth on them the consideration of that season of trial which they were then under, and which directly answered unto that time of trial which their fathers had in the wilderness And there are three parts of that discourse of the apostle which ensueth unto the end of this chapter: —

First, An exhortation, built upon what he had before laid down and given evidence of, with confirmation unto it by the example produced out of the psalmist, Hebrews 3:12-14.

Secondly, An especial consideration and improvement, unto the end aimed at, of sundry parts of the example insisted on, Hebrews 3:15-18; and therein many enforcements of the exhortation laid down are contained. Thirdly, A general conclusion is drawn out of his whole previous discourse, and laid down as the ground of his future progress, Hebrews 3:19.

The first part of this discourse comes now under consideration in the ensuing words:—

Hebrews 3:12-14. βλέπετε, ἀδελφοὶ, μή ποτε ἔσται ἔν τινι ὑμῶν καρδία πονηρὰ ἀπιστίας, ἐν τῷ ἀποστῆναι ἀπὸ θεοῦ ζῶντος· ᾿αλλὰ παρακαλεῖτε ἑαυτοὺς, καθ᾿ ἑκάστην ἡμέραν, ἄχρις οὗ τὸ σήμερον καλεῖται, ἵνα σκληρυνθῇ τις ἐξ ὑμῶν ἀπάτῃ τῆς ἀμαρτίας. ΄έτοχοι γὰρ γεγόναμεν τοῦ χριστοῦ, ἐάνπερ τὴν ἀρχὴν τῆς ὑποστάσεως μέχρι τέλους βεβαίας κατάσχωμεν.

΄ή ποτε. ποτέ is omitted or neglected in many translations, as the Syriac, Arabic, Ethiopic; “ne sit,” “that there be not,” “let there not be.” Vulg. Lat., “ne forte,” “lest haply;” with respect unto the uncertainty of the event; some, “ne quando,” “ne ullo tempore,” “lest at any time,” “that at no time,” with respect unto the season of such event.

῎εν τινι ὑμῶν, “in aliquo vestrum,” so the Vulg. Lat. Ar.; “in ullo vestrum,” Beza, more properly; so we “in any of you.” בֵּאנָשׁ מֵנְכוּן, “in homine ex vobis,” “in a man,” “in any man of you.” Arab., “in corde ullius vestrum,” “in the heart of any of you;” taking in the word “heart” out of the next clause which there it supplies by adding “wickedness,” “the wickedness of unbelief.”

καρδία πονηρὰ ἀπιστίας, “cor malum incredulitatis; so the Vulg. Lat., — a an evil heart of unbelief.” לֵבָא בִּישָׁא דְּלָא מְהַיְמַן“cor malum quod non fidele sit,” “an evil heart that is not faithful” or “believing.” Others, “cor malum et incredulum,” “an evil and unbelieving heart.”

᾿εν τῷ ἀποστῆναι. Ar., “in discedere.” Vulg. Lat., “dicedendi.” Beza, “ut desciscatis.” Properly “descisco” is “to depart unlawfully,” “to withdraw wickedly;” that is, to apostatize from an engagement of duty. Syr., וְתֶפְרְקוּן“and you should withdraw,” or “draw back.”

παρακαλεῖτε. Vulg. Lat., “adhortamini vosmetipsos,” “exhort yourselves.” Eras., “vos invicem,” to the same purpose. Beza, “exhortamini alii alios,” “exhort one another:” as we also. Syr., אֶלָא בְּעוּ מֵן נַפְשְׁכוּן, “sed postulate ab anima vestra,” “but ask” (or “require”) “it of your soul;” that is, of yourself. Tremel., “sed examinate vos ipsos,” “but examine yourselves;” that is, by inquiry. This expresseth somewhat another duty as to the manner of its performance, but to the same purpose.

καθ᾿ ἑκάστην ἡμέραν. Arias, “per unumquemque diem.” Vulg. Lat., “per singulos dies,” “every day;” that is, “sigillatim,” “separately and distinctly considered, Syr., כֻּלְהוּן יַוְמָתָא, “omnibus diebus,” “always.” Beza, “quotidie;” that is, as ours, “daily,” “every day.”

῎αχρις οὗ σήμερον καλεῖται. Vulg. Lat., “donec hodie cognominatur;” Arias, “usque quo;” Beza, “quoad dies appellatur hodiernus,” — “whilst it is called the present day, to-day.” עד מאָ ליַוְּמָא דְּמֶתְקְרֵא יַוְמָנָא, “until the day which is called to-day,” or, “this day.” It is uncertain what day is intended by that translator. It seems to be the day of death; which answers the “omnibus diebus” before; that is, “hujus vitae,” “all the days of this life.” ῞ινα μὴ σκληρυνθῇ ἐξ ὐμῶν. Vulg. Lat., “ut non obduretur quis ex vobis;” Beza, “nequis ex vobis;” — “lest any of you be hardened.” The Ethiopic adds, “that there be none that may say that any one of them is hardened in any sin.”

᾿απάτῃ is rendered by some “deceptio,” by some “seductio,” — “a seducing deceit.”’Rhemists, “that none of you be obdurate with the fallacy of sin;” most darkly and corruptly.

΄έτοχοι γεγόναμεν τοῦ χριστοῦ, “Christi participes facti, effecti sumus,” Beza; “consortes.” Syr., אֶתְחַלַטַן, “commixti sumus Christo,” — “we are immixed with Christ;” that is, as I suppose, “united unto him.” Ethiop., “we are as Christ.”

᾿εάνπερ. Vulg. Lat., “si tamen;” but πέρ is not exceptive. Beza, “si modo,” “if so be.” The Syriac takes no notice of it; nor we in our translation, “if.”

᾿αρχὴν τῆς ὑποστάσεως. Vulg. Lat., “initium substantiae ejus;” adding” ejus” to the text and corrupting the sense. Beza, “principium illud quo sustentamur,” — “that beginning” (or “the beginning”)” of that whereby we are supported.” We, “the beginning of our confidence.” Rhemists, “yet so as if we keep the beginning of his substance firm.” Castalio, “hoc argumentum ab initio ad finem usque,” — “ this argument” (or “evidence”) “from the beginning unto the end.” Syr., “if from the beginning unto the end we abide in this firm substance” or “foundation.” Ethiop, “if we persevere to keep this new testament.” All to the same purpose.

Hebrews 3:12-14. — Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing [wickedly] from the living God. But exhort one another [yourselves] daily [every day] whilst it is called To-day; lest any of you [among you] be hardened through the [seducing] deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if so be we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.

In these three verses there are three things in general proposed by the apostle: —

First, An exhortation unto the avoidance of an evil, even that which it is his principal design to caution them against, and to dissuade them from, Hebrews 2:12.

Secondly, A proposal of one useful means whereby they may be assisted in its avoidance, Hebrews 2:13.

Thirdly, An enforcement of the exhortation from that evil, and unto the use of that means, from sundry considerations, is added, Hebrews 2:14.

In the FIRST of these we may consider what is included in it, namely, —

1. The dependence of this exhortation on the discourse foregoing.

2. The compellation used by the apostle in this renovation of an especial address unto the Hebrews, “Brethren.”

3. The duty he exhorts them unto; and that,

(1.) As to the act of it, “Take heed;”

(2.) “As to the persons concerned, “Lest there be in any of you;”

(3.) As to object of it, or the evil dehorted from, “An evil heart of unbelief;” which is further described by its effects, “In departing from the living God.”

SECONDLY,

1. The means of the prevention of the evil dehorted from is presented, Hebrews 2:13; and this in general is by exhortation against it, “Exhort:” which hath a treble qualification, —

(1.) As to the persons by whom it is to be performed or the means used, “One another;”

(2.) The season of its performance, which also includes the manner of it, “Every day;”

(3.) With a limitation of that season, “Whilst it is called Today.”

2. An especial enforcement of this preventive duty from the danger of their condition, which would be increased by a neglect thereof. And this is described, —

(1.) From the cause of it, “The deceitfulness of sin;”

(2.) From its tendency and effects, “Lest any be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”

THIRDLY, There is a general enforcement of the whole, both as to the evil to be avoided and the means to be used for that purpose; and this is taken from their state and condition on supposition of the avoidance of the one and observance of the other, Hebrews 2:14. And this is, —

1. Expressed, “For we are partakers of Christ;” and,

2. Declared as to its dependence on the preceding exhortation, “If so be we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.”

In the exhortation proposed, in the first place, there is included, —

1. A dependence on the discourse foregoing. Some suppose a hyperbaton in the words, and that this “take heed” depends immediately on the “wherefore” which is in the beginning of Hebrews 2:7, as was intimated on that place. So the following words are introduced only as an instance to enforce the exhortation by. In this sense the reference here is to be taken immediately from the authority of Christ over his house, and the necessity of our perseverance to the securing of our interest in that house, as Hebrews 2:5-6; “Wherefore, take heed, brethren.” But the truth is, the matter of this exhortation is educed so directly and immediately out of the foregoing example, that we must in it own a respect thereunto; for the words are a plain inference from that discourse, though the note of illation be omitted. As if the apostle had said, ‘Seeing it is thus, seeing our forefathers, who were our types, and are proposed for an example unto us, did so miscarry under a dispensation of God representing that which he exerciseth now towards us, let us take heed.’This is the dependence of the words.

2. The apostle returning unto the Hebrews with an especial address and exhortation, renews his former affectionate compellation, “Brethren.” This hath been spoken unto, Hebrews 2:1 of this chapter, where the reader may find the reason of it., and what is contained in it. Only the cause wherefore he repeats it again seems to be, that it might appear that he had no commotion of spirit upon him in his pressing the severe instance and example insisted on. A minister must be ἐπιεικής, 1 Timothy 3:3, “meek,” “patient,” not easily provoked; μὴ οῤγίλος, Titus 1:7, “not soon angry” with his flock, or any of them. And tenderness, gentleness, demonstrations of love and care towards them with whom we have to do, secretly soften them, and open their ears and hearts to let in a word of instruction and exhortation. ῾ο ἥλιος τόν ἄνεμου ἐνίκησε. Besides, he obviates any suspicion that might arise as though he insinuated a fear of such an evil in them, and might make them think that he had hard thoughts of them. By this appellation he removes all such jealousies, and lets them know that the best of saints had need be cautioned sometimes against the worst of evils.

3. The manner of the performance of the duty exhorted unto, and,

(1.) The act of it, is expressed in the first word, βλέπετε, “Take heed.” βλέπετε is firstly and properly “to see” and “behold,” as that is an act of sense; then “to take heed,” or “beware,” an act of the mind; — by an easy translation, first “video,” then “caveo.” And when it is used for “to see” as an act of sense, it commonly hath respect unto expectation, either of some good to be received, or of some inconvenience to be watched against. And because men look out or about them to beware of dangers, the word is used for “to take heed” or “beware.” In this sense it is often used in the New Testament, yea, so far as I have observed, it is peculiar unto the sacred writers; especially it is frequently used by our apostle, as 1 Corinthians 1:26; 1 Corinthians 10:18; Philippians 3:2; Ephesians 5:15; Colossians 2:8. And sometimes it is used transitively affecting the object, merely for “to consider:” 1 Corinthians 1:26, βλέπετε τὴν κλῆσιν ὑμῶν, — “ Consider your calling;” 1 Corinthians 10:18, βλέπετε τὸν ᾿ισραὴλ κατὰ σάρκα, — “Consider Israel according to the flesh.” Sometimes it hath a reciprocal pronoun joined with it, βλέπετε ἑαυτούς, 2 John 1:8, “Consider” or “look well to yourselves.” Sometimes it is used absolutely, as here, and signifies to beware of somewhat; but in this sense it hath often rip, joined with it; as Mark 8:15, βλέπετε ἀπὸ τῆς ζύμης τῶν φαρισαίων: which in Matthew 16:6 is προσέχετε, “take heed of” (beware of) “the leaven of the Pharisees.” And ἀπό is sometimes omitted, Philippians 3:2, βλέπετε τοὺς κύνας, βλέπετε τοὺς κακοὺς ἐργάτας, βλέπετε τὴν κατατομήν, and so of the rest; — “Take heed of dogs, take heed of evil workers, take heed of the concision,” ‘that ye neither join with them nor be hurt by them.’This is here the use of the word; “care,” “heedfulness,” “circumspection with respect to danger and opposition, and those imminent or near,” is that which the word imports: whence observe that, —

Obs. 1. There is need of great care, heedfulness, watchfulness, and circumspection, for a due continuance in our profession, to the glory of God and advantage of our own souls. A careless profession will issue in apostasy open or secret, or great distress, Matthew 13:5-6, Song of Solomon 3:1; Song of Solomon 3:5. Our course is a warfare; and those who take not heed, who are not circumspect in war, will assuredly be a prey to their enemies. Be their strength never so great, one time or other they will not avoid a fatal surprisal.

And there is a necessity of this heedful attendance in us, from the manifold duties that, in all things and at all times, are incumbent on us. Our whole life is a life of duty and obedience. God is in every thing to be regarded by us. So that we are to be attentive unto our duty on all occasions, Psalms 16:8; Genesis 17:1. If we fail in matter or manner, what lies in us we spoil the whole; for “bonum oritur ex integris, malum ex quolibet defectu.” Any one defect is enough to denominate an action evil; but unto that which is good there must be a concurrence of all necessary circumstances. See Ephesians 5:15-16. And who is sufficient for these things? God alone by his Spirit and grace can enable us hereunto. But he works these things by us as well as in us, and gives heedful diligence where he gives success.

But it is with especial reference unto difficulty, oppositions, dangers, temptations, that this caution is here given us to be cautious. And who can reckon up the number or dispose into order these things, and that whether we consider those that constantly attend us or thee that are occasional? Among oppositions, snares, and dangers, that we are constantly exposed unto, and which without heedfulness we cannot avoid, the apostle here instanceth in one, namely, that of “an evil heart of unbelief,” which must be spoken unto. And he giveth an instance in those that are occasional, Ephesians 5:15-16, “Walk circumspectly,… because the days are evil.” There is an especial evil in the days wherein we live, which we cannot avoid without great circumspection. Now this taking heed consisteth, —

[1.] In a due consideration of our danger. He that walks the midst of mares and serpents, and goes on confidently, without consideration of his danger, as if his paths were all smooth and safe, will one time or other be entangled or bitten. Blind confidence in a course of profession, as if the whole of it were a dangerless road, is a ruining principle, 1 Peter 1:17; Proverbs 28:14; “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished,” Proverbs 22:3. It is the highest folly not to look out after dangers, and which usually ends in sorrow, trouble, and punishment. Fear is necessary in continual exercise; not a fear of distrust or diffidence, of anxious scrupulosity, but of care, duty, and diligence. Continually to fear dangers in all things, brings a useless, perplexing scrupulosity, where men’s principle of duty is only a harassed, convinced conscience, and the rule of it is the doctrines and traditions of men. But where the principle of it is the Spirit of grace, with all this fear there is liberty; and where the rule of it is the Word, there is safety, peace, and stability. Men at sea that are in the midst of rocks and shelves, and consider it not, will hardly avoid a shipwreck. Livy tells us that Philopoemen, that wary Grecian commander, wherever he went, though he were alone, he was still considering all places that he pained by, how an enemy might possess them and lay ambushes in them to his disadvantage, if he should command an army in those places. Hereby he became the most wary and expert captain of his age. So should a Christian do: he should always consider how, where, by what means, his spiritual adversaries may ensnare or engage him, and so either avoid them or oppose them; and not be like the simple, pass on heedlessly and be punished, Ephesians 6:11-12, etc.

[2.] In a due consideration of the especial nature of those and dangers that we are exposed unto. It is not enough that in general we know and reckon on it that we are obnoxious unto dangers, but we must learn what are the especial dangers, as things are circumstanced in our lives, callings, ways, times, and seasons, that are apt easily to beset us. To know and continually ponder their nature and advantages, this is wisdom, the greatest wisdom we can exercise in the whole course of our walking and profession, 1 Peter 5:8. He that takes heed in this will not likely fail in any other instance. But here custom, security, false-pleasing, confidence of our own strength, negligence, and sloth, all put in to delude us And if we are here imposed on, that we weigh not aright the nature and efficacy of our own peculiar snares and temptations, we assuredly at one time or another fail and miscarry in the course of our obedience. This was David’s wisdom when “he kept himself from his own iniquity,” Psalms 18:23. God would have us cast all our care about earthly things on him, but be watchful ourselves, through his grace, about spiritual. But we are apt to fail on both hands.

[3.] It is so to heed them as to endeavor to avoid them, and that in all their occasions, causes, and advantages, in their whole work and efficacy. We are not only to consider them when they assault us, but to watch against all ways whereby they may so do. This is the duty of a man that stands armed on his guard. He is very regardless of his enemy who never seeks to avoid him but when he sees him or feels him. Men will consider the lion’s walk, so as not without good means of defense to be found in it. The lion is in all the especial oppositions we are exercised with. We had need continually to be “fenced with iron and the staff of a spear,” as 2 Samuel 23:7, and yet to avoid them what we are able. God expresseth his great dislike of them that “walk contrary, to him,” as we have rendered the words, Leviticus 26:21, וְאִם תֵּלְכוּ עִמִּי קֶרִי; — ‘If you walk with me at a peradventure, or at all adventures, carelessly, negligently, without due consideration of your duty and your danger,’— this God will not bear.

[4.] Consider them so as to oppose them. And this consisteth in these things: —

1st. In being always ready armed and standing on your guard, Ephesians 6:13; Mark 13:37; 2 Samuel 23:7.

2dly. In calling in help and assistance, Hebrews 2:18; Hebrews 4:16.

3dly. In improving the supplies granted us with faith and diligence, Hebrews 12.

And these are some of the things that belong unto this duty; and they are but some of them, for it is diffused through the whole course of our profession, and is indispensably required of us, if we would abide in the beauty and glory of it unto the end. And therefore the negligence and sloth of many professors can never enough be bewailed. They walk at all adventure, as if there were no devil to tempt them, no world to seduce, ensnare, or oppose them, no treachery in their own hearts to deceive them. And hence it is that many are sick, and many are weak, and some are fallen asleep in sin. But what our Savior said to all of old, he says still to us all, “Watch,” Mark 13:37.

(2.) There are the persons concerned in this duty, ΄ή ποτε ἔσται ἔν τινι ὑμῶν, — “Lest there be in any of you.” ΄ή ποτε is somewhat more emphatical than the “lest,” whereby alone we render it. “Ne forte,” say some translations, — “Lest perchance,” with respect unto a dubious event. Others,” quando,” — “Lest there be at any time,” “lest so, that there should be,” ἔν τινι ὑμῶν, “in any of you.” The apostle doth not seem in these words strictly to intend every individual person, as if he had said, ‘ Let every one of you look to himself and his own heart, lest it be so with him;’but he speaks unto them collectively, to take care that there be none such amongst them, — that none be found amongst them with such a heart as he cautions them against. And this, consequently, falls on every individual; for where all are spoken unto, every one is concerned. The same kind of expression is used to the same purpose, Hebrews 12:15-16 , ᾿επισκοποῦντες μή τις ὑστερῶν, — “Watching,” overseeing mutually, “with diligence, lest any” among you “fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau.” Here the caution is evidently given unto the whole church, and the duty of the whole is expressed thereon. So is it likewise in this place, as appears from the direction that he gives for the right performance of this duty, in and by mutual watchfulness and exhortation, in the next verse. This, then, is proposed,

[1.] To the whole church, to the whole society, and consequentially to every member thereof; so that we may hence observe, —

Obs. 2. Godly jealousy concerning, and watchfulness over the whole body, that no beginnings of backsliding from Christ and the gospel be found amongst them, is the duty of all churches of believers.

He that first put in an exception to this rule was the first apostate from God, who did it to cover a former sin. הַשֹׁמֵר אָחִי אָנֹכִיּsays Cain, Genesis 4:9, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” — ‘Is it my duty to look after him, to take care of him, or what becomes of him?’God proposed the question so unto him as it was apt in its own nature to lead him to confession and repentance. But he was now hardened in sin, and having quarrelled with God and slain his brother, he now casts off all the remaining dictates of the law of nature, accounting that one brother is not bound to take care of the welfare of another. Mutual watchfulness over one another by persons in any society is a prime dictate of the law of our creation, which was first rejected by this first murderer; and every neglect of it hath something of murder in it, 1 John 3:11-12; 1 John 3:15. In a church relation the obligation unto this duty is ratified by institution. Upon the officers of the church it is incumbent by the way of office; on all believers, as members of the church, in a way of love: Leviticus 19:17, “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart; thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbor, and not suffer sin upon him.” He that doth not watch over his brother to prevent his sin, or recover him from it, as much as lies in him, he hates him, and is so far a murderer. And the necessity of this duty is expressed in the word used to declare it, and the manner of its usage: הוֹכֵחַ תּוֹכִיחַ— “rebuking thou shalt rebuke him;” that is, plainly and effectually, and that with such rebukes as consist in arguings, reasonings, and pleadings, to bring on a conviction. So the word signifies, and is used as to the pleadings or reasonings of men with God to prevail with him: Job 13:3, “Surely I would speak to the Almighty, I desire הוֹכֵחַ אֶלאּאֵל,” “to reason” (argue, plead) “with God, until I can prevail with him.” And it is used of God’s pleading with men, to bring them to conviction, Isaiah 1:18, וְנִוָּכְחָה לְכואּנָא— “Go to” (or “come now”), “and let us plead together.” So that an effectual dealing with a brother about sin is included. And this is enforced in the latter clause of the words, חֵטְא וְלִאֹאּתִשָּׁא עָלָיו; which may well be rendered, “And thou shalt not bear iniquity for him,” — that is, make thyself guilty of his sin, by not reproving him. And for that jealousy which is to accompany this watchfulness, and the effects of it, our apostle gives in an example in himself, 2 Corinthians 11:2-3, “I am jealous over you with godly jealousy:… for I fear,” ( μή πως, as here μή ποτε,) “lest by any means… your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” This belongs to their watch, as they watch for the souls of their people, “as they who must give account,” Hebrews 13:17. The discharge of this duty will be required of them on the account of their office, and that when, I fear, some will be hard put to it for an answer. For the Scripture is full of threatenings and denunciations of sore judgments against those that shall be found neglective herein. But doth this excuse other believers, members of churches, from a share and interest in this duty? No, doubtless, unless it renders them Cains, — that is, transgressors against the light of nature, and who, as to the institutions of Christ, manifest themselves not to be members of the same mystical body with them that really believe. For in the observation of this and the like duties of their common interest doth the preservation of that body consist. Christ is the head, “from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body, unto the edifying of itself in love,”

Ephesians 4:16. Every joint, every part in this mystical body that receives influences of life from Christ, the head, and so holds of him, is to work effectually, and to give out the supplies which it receives from Christ, unto the preservation, increase, and edification of the whole. There is, indeed, a causeless suspicion that some are apt to indulge unto, instead, of this watchful jealousy. But this is the bane of churches and of love, as that is the preservation of them both. The apostle placeth ὑπόνοιας πονηρας, “evil surmises,” or “suspicions,” among the works of “men of corrupt minds,” 1 Timothy 6:4, and that deservedly; but this godly, watchful jealousy, is that which he commends unto others in the example of himself. And whatever appearance they may have one of the other, they may be easily distinguished. Jealousy is a solicitous care, proceeding from love; suspicion, a vain conjecturing, proceeding from curiosity, vanity, or envy. He that hath the former, his heart is ruled by love towards them concerning whom he hath it. From thence he is afraid lest they should miscarry, lest any evil should befall them; for love is the willing of all good unto others, that they may prosper universally. Suspicion is an effect of curiosity and vanity of mind; whence commonly there is somewhat of envy, and secret self-pleasing in the miscarriages of others, mixed with it, — a fault too often found amongst professors. And this vice puts forth itself in vain babbling and unheedful defamations; whereas the other works by love, tenderness, prayer, and mutual exhortation, as in the next verse. Again, this jealous watchfulness hath for its end the glory of Christ and his gospel, with the good of the souls of others, This is that which the apostle aims to ingenerate and stir up in the Hebrews, as is evident from his discourse; when vain suspicion hath no end but the nourishing of the lusts from whence it doth proceed. The foundation whereon this duty is built is the common concernment of all believers in the same good or evil, which are the consequents of men’s abiding in Christ or departing from him, in reference whereunto this jealous watch is to be ordered. “Take heed lest there be among you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” The good that will ensue on the avoidance of this evil is twofold: the glory of Christ, and the salvation of the souls of them who make profession of his name. And have we not a concernment in these things? Is it not our concernment that Christ be glorified by the professed subjection of the souls of men unto him, and their perseverance therein? that his name, his grace, his power, be glorified, in the holiness, fruitfulness, and stability in profession, of all that are called by his name? If we are not concerned in these things, if we are not deeply concerned in them, we are none of his.

In like manner, are we not concerned that the members of the same body with us should be kept alive, kept from putrefying, from being cut off and burned before our eyes? Are we not concerned that an eye doth not go out, that an arm doth not wither, that a leg be not broken, yea, that a finger be not cut? If it be so, we are not ourselves members of the body. The like may be said of the evil that ensues on the sin of apostasy, which in this duty we labor to obviate and prevent. That which principally of this kind might be insisted on, is the troublesome, defiling infection wherewith apostasy in any is attended; which our apostle speaks unto, Hebrews 12:15. The failing of one is commonly the infection and defiling of many. There is a filthy leaven in apostasy, which if not carefully heeded may leaven the whole lump. Ofttimes also it springs from or accompanied with some word of error that eats like a gangrene. “Principiis obsta” is the great rule in these cases. And the duty spoken unto is one signal means of the prevention of this evil. And herein lies our concernment; as also in the preventing of that punishment that may befall the whole for the sins of some, Joshua 22:18; Joshua 22:20. And it is the defect which is in this and the like kind of duties which manifests and makes naked that miserable degeneracy which Christians in general, in these latter evil days, are fallen into. Who almost hath any regard unto them? Instead of these fruits of spiritual love, men for the most part follow “divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.” The practical duties of Christianity are amongst many derided. To watch over one another, to warn, to exhort one another, are looked on as things, if possible, beneath contempt. And it is a shame to mention or report the ways and means of dealing with and about the sins of men, which by some are substituted in the room of those appointed in the gospel unto their utter exclusion. But the rule is stable, and will in due time, through the strength of Christ, prevail against the lusts of men.

Obs. 3. [2.] It is the duty of every individual believer to be intent on all occasions, lest at any time, or by any means, there should be found in him “an evil heart of unbelief.”

This, as was showed, follows on the former, and is a necessary consequence of it. But this so directly falls in with what will be offered from the next clause that thereunto we refer it.

(3.) The evil thus earnestly cautioned against is expressed,

[1.] In the principle of it, and that is, καρδία πονηρὰ τῆς ἀπιστίας: and,

[2.] In the work or effect of that principle, in these words, ᾿εν τῷ ἀποστῆναι ἀπὸ θεοῦ ζῶντος.

[1.] The principle of the evil is “an evil heart of unbelief.” What is meant by καρδία, “the heart,” in the sense wherein it is here used, was declared on the verses preceding; what is meant by πονηρά, “evil,” shall be showed in its proper place. In special, it is said to be an evil heart τῆς ἀπιστίας, — of unbelief;” that is, say most, ἄπιστος, “cor malum et incredulum,” “an evil heart, and incredulous,” or “unbelieving,” — an evil and unbelieving heart. So the genitive case of the substantive is put for the adjective, — ἀπιστίας for ἄπιστος, by a Hebraism not unusual. In this sense “unbelieving” is either exegetical, declaring what is meant by the “evil heart” in this place, even an unbelieving heart; or it is additious, and so a heart is signified which in general is evil, and in particular unbelieving. But there seems to me to be more in this expression; and that ἀπιστίας here is “genitivus efficientis,” — denoting the principal efficient cause rendering the heart so evil as that it should “depart from the living God.” καρδία ἀπιστίας, then, “a heart of unbelief,” is more than καρδία ἄπιστος, “an unbelieving heart;” for this latter word is sometimes used to express a defect in believing, and not unbelief absolutely. So John 20:27, ΄ή γίνου ἄπιστος, ἀλλὰ πιστός, — “Be not unbelieving, but believing.” They are the words of Christ unto Thomas, who, though he failed in his faith, yet was not absolutely without faith. I confess the word is generally used in Scripture to express a negative unbeliever, or an infidel; but there is something peculiar in this expression, “A heart of unbelief,” — that is, under the power of it, principled by it in its actings. What this unbelief is, and how the heart is rendered πονηρά, “evil,” thereby, we must now inquire.

As for unbelief, it is usually distinguished into that which is negative and that which is privative.

1st. Negative unbelief is whenever any man or men believe not, or have not faith, although they never had the means of believing granted unto them. For when men believe not, they are unbelievers, whether they have had any means of believing or no, or whether their unbelief be culpable or no, whatever may be the nature or degree of its demerit. So the apostle calls him an unbeliever who comes in accidentally to the assembly of the church, who never heard the word preached before, 1 Corinthians 14:23-24. In this sense, all those persons and nations who have never had as yet the gospel preached unto them are infidels, or unbelievers; that is, they are so negatively, — they believe not, but yet cannot be said to have in them “an evil heart of unbelief.”

2dly. It is privative, when men believe not, although they enjoy the means of faith or believing. And herein consists the highest acting of the depraved nature of man. And it is on many accounts the greatest provocation of God that a creature can make himself guilty of. For it is, as might be manifested, an opposition unto God in all the properties of his nature, and in the whole revelation o£ his will Hence the gospel, which is a declaration of grace, mercy, and pardon, though it condemns all sin, yet it denounceth the final con-detonation of persons only against this sin:

“He that believeth shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned,” Mark 16:16.

Now this privative unbelief is twofold: —

(1st.) In refusing to believe when it is required;

(2dly.) In rejecting the faith after it hath been received

(1st.) The first is, when the object of faith, or that which is to be believed, is according unto the mind of God, and in the way of his appointment proposed unto men; when sufficient evidence is given unto the truth and goodness of what is so proposed; and when the authority is made known on which faith is required; yet they refuse to believe. For these three things, — a revelation of the things to be believed made known in the way of God, sufficient evidence given unto the truth proposed, and a just assertion of the authority of God requiring faith and obedience, — do render the unbelief of men privative. Now, as this hath its root in the natural darkness, blindness, and depravedness of the minds of men, so it is educed and acted not without new sinful prejudices, and stubbornness of the will, refusing to attend unto and consider the evidences that are given unto the truth proposed, or the goodness and excellency of the things themselves contained in the propositions of truth; nor without signal effects of hardness of heart, love of sin and pleasure, keeping men off from the obedience required. Some instances may clear these particulars: —

[1st.] The root of this unbelief is in the original depravation of our natures, with that spiritual impotency and enmity to God wherein it doth consist. There is such an impotency in us by nature, that no man of himself, by his own strength, can believe, can come to Christ. So himself informs us, John 6:44, “No man,” saith he, “can come to me, except the Father draw him;” — that is, none can believe unless they are in an especial manner “taught of God,” as he explains himself, John 6:45. Again, by nature that “carnal mind” is in all men, which is “enmity against God,” which is “not subject unto his law, neither indeed can be,” Romans 8:7. Hereunto maybe referred all that is spoken about the death of men in sin, their blindness and distrust, their alienation from God and obstinacy therein. This is the root and remote cause of all unbelief. Men in the state of nature neither can nor will believe the gospel; but, —

[2dly.] Besides this general cause of unbelief, when it comes unto particular instances, and the gospel is proposed unto this or that man for his assent and submission unto it, there is always some especial corruption of mind or will, voluntarily acted, if the soul be kept off from believing; and on the account thereof principally and not merely of original impotency and enmity against God, is the guilt of unbelief reflected upon the souls of the sinners. There is the same fundamental remote cause of unbelief in all that refuse the gospel; but the next immediate proper cause of it is peculiar to every individual unbeliever: —

First, some are kept off from believing the gospel by inveterate prejudices in their minds, which they have taken in upon corrupt principles and interests. This shut up of old most of the Jews under their unbelief. They had received many prejudices against the person of Christ, which on all occasions they expressed; and so were offended at him and believed not. That he was poor, that he came out of Galilee, that the rulers and teachers of the church rejected him, were their pleas against him. So also they had against his doctrine, and that principally on two false principles; — one of justification by the works of the law, as our apostle directly declares, Romans 9:31-32; Romans 10:3; the other, of the perpetuity or unchangeableness of the institutions of Moses, with which the apostle deals in this epistle. And these prejudices arose partly from their pride in seeking after righteousness by the works of the law, and partly from a corrupt desire of earthly things, riches, dominion, and wealth, which they expected with and by their Messiah, whereof I have treated elsewhere at large. These were in many the immediate causes of their unbelief, as is everywhere manifest in the gospel. And so is it with many at all times. Prejudices against the preachers of the gospel on sundry accounts, and against their doctrine, as either useless, or false, or unintelligible, or somewhat they know not what, which they do not like, keep them off from attending to the word and believing. See John 5:44.

Secondly, An especial obstinacy of will from those prejudices offereth itself in this matter. So our Savior tells the Pharisees, John 5:40, “Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” It is not the perverseness and obstinacy that is in the wills of all men by nature that our Savior here intendeth, but an especial perverseness in them, arising out of an especial envy unto and hatred of him and his doctrine. Hence they did not only not receive him, — which might be charged on their natural impetency, — but they put forth a positive act of their wills in refusing and rejecting him. And on this account the guilt of men’s unbelief is absolutely resolved into their own wills. And whether it be discovered or no, this is the condition with many in all times and seasons.

Thirdly, Love of sin is with some the immediate cause of their actual unbelief: John 3:19,

“This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”

The light of the gospel is brought unto a place or people; they come so near it as to discover its end and tendency; but so soon as they find that it aims to part them and their sins, they will have no more to do with it. And on this account doth condemnation follow the preaching of the gospel, though its own proper end be salvation and that only. And this is the common way of the ruin of souls: they like not the terms of the gospel, because of their love of sin; and so perish in and for their iniquities.

Fourthly, Stupid ignorance, arising from the possessing of the minds of men with other things, inconsistent with the faith and obedience of the gospel, through the craft and subtilty of Satan, is another cause hereof. So our apostle tells us, 2 Corinthians 4:4, that

“the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”

It is when the minds of men are beamed into with the light of the gospel that they do believe; for by that light, is faith produced. How is this hindered, how is it obstructed? It is by the darkness and blindness of their minds. What darkness is this, — that which is natural and common unto all? No, but that which is in a peculiar manner brought and reflected on the minds of some men by the craft and deceits of the god of this world; that is, through his temptations and suggestions, he so fills and possesses their minds with the things of this world (whence he is here peculiarly called “the god of this world”, that they are kept in a stupid and brutish ignorance of spiritual things, And this keeps them off from believing. These are a few of the many instances that might be given of the immediate causes of their privative unbelief, which consists in the rejecting or not receiving the truths of the gospel, when they are proposed in a due manner unto the minds of men.

And this fully clears the holiness and righteousness of God in his judgments against final and impenitent unbelievers to whom the gospel is preached; for as that impotency which is in them naturally is culpable, — and it is no excuse for them for not believing because of themselves they could not so do, seeing it is by their own default that they are brought into that condition, — so every one in his own person who believeth not doth, by a voluntary act of his will, reject the gospel, and that on such corrupt principles as none can deny to be his sin.

(2dly.) There is an unbelief that consists in a rejection of the truth of the gospel after that it hath been admitted, acknowledged, and professed.

Some, after they have been convinced of the truth, and made profession of it, yet, through the temptations of the world, the corruption of their own hearts, love of sin, or fear of persecution, do suffer their convictions to wear off, or do cast them out, and reject the faith they have owned. Hereof is frequent mention made in the gospel, and no less frequent caution given against it. And this in general is the highest aggravation of this sin. For although the former kind of privative unbelief will certainly prove destructive to them that continue in it, and it may be said that this can do no more, yet this hath two great evils attending it that the other hath no concernment in.

The first is, the difficulty that there is in being recovered out of this condition. He who hath already withstood the efficacy of the only remedy for his distempers, who hath rejected and despised it, what can cure him? This he who never received the gospel, be he never so bad or sinful, is not obnoxious unto. He hath not as yet, as it were, made a trial of what it is; and is free from that contempt cast upon it which is done by the other, who declares that he hath made trial of it, and valueth it not. This, on many reasons, renders his recovery difficult, almost impossible.

Again, There is a degree of this unbelief which puts a soul absolutely into an irrecoverable condition in this world. For wherein-soever the formality of the sin against the Holy Ghost that shall not be pardoned doth consist, yet this is the matter of it, and without which it is impossible that any one should be guilty of that sin. There must be a renunciation of truth known and professed, or the guilt of that sin cannot be contracted. Now this, be they never so wicked, they are free from who never received, admitted, or professed the truth. The sin against the Holy Ghost is a sin peculiar unto them who have made profession. And from this ariseth an especial aggravation of their punishment at the last day. So the apostle Peter determines this matter: “It had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them,” 2 Peter 2:21.

Again, This unbelief in rejecting the gospel is either notional and practical, or practical only.

[1st.] If it be notional it will also be practical. If men once reject their profession of the truth of the gospel, quenching their light into it and understanding of it, their practice of sin will be answerable thereunto. Renegadoes from the gospel are the greatest villains in the world. Neither do men voluntarily renounce the light, but to give themselves up to the deeds of darkness.

[2dly.] It may be practical only. So is it in them who

“profess that they know God, but in works deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate,” Titus 1:16,

— men who walk in some kind of profession, yet “their end is destruction,” and that because “their god is their belly, and their glory is their shame, who mind earthly things,” Philippians 3:19. The corruptions of such men do absolutely prevail over their convictions, and the power of sin in their wills and affections casts off all influencing light from their minds or understandings. Such men as these, although they do not in words deny the truth of the gospel, yet they yield no obedience unto it. They neither expect any good from its promises, nor fear any great evil from its threatenings, which formerly had made some more effectual impressions upon them. And this is the condition of unspeakable multitudes in the world.

Now, the unbelief here intended by the apostle is this privative unbelief, consisting in the rejection of the truth of the gospel after it. hath been received and professed. And this also may be considered two ways: —

[1st.] Initially, as to some degrees of it;

[2dly.] As it may be finished and completed.

Of these our apostle treateth severally and distinctly. Of the former in this place, and Hebrews 4:11-13, Hebrews 12:15-16; of the latter, Hebrews 6:4-6, Hebrews 10:26-27. The first consists in any declension of heart from Christ and the gospel. This may be in various degrees and on several accounts. The latter is a total renunciation of the gospel, of which we spake before. It is the former that the apostle here intends, and therein a prevention of the latter: and therefore concerning it we must consider two things: —

[1st.] Wherein it consists, or what are the ways of its entrance into and prevailing upon the minds of men.

[2dly.] By what means it renders the heart evil when it is brought under the power thereof.

[1st.] It consists in the soul’s receiving impressions from arguments and reasonings against profession, in the whole or any degrees of it. Satan is and will be casting “fiery darts” at the soul, but when the “shield of faith” is held up constantly and steadfastly, they are immediately quenched, Ephesians 6:16; yea, it is the work of faith to arm the soul on all hands, that assaults make no impression upon it. If that fail, if that faint, more or less they will take place. And when or wherein the soul is brought but to parley with an objection, then and therein unbelief is at work, whether it be as unto a particular fact or as unto our state. It was so with our first parents in the very entry of their treaty with Satan, in giving a considering audience unto that one question, “Hath God said so?” Our great Pattern hath showed us what our deportment ought to be in all suggestions and temptations. When the devil showed him “all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them,” to tempt him withal, he did not stand and look upon them, viewing their glory, and pondering their empire, though he was fully assured that after all he could despise and trample upon the offer, and him that made it; but instantly, without stay, he cries, “Get thee hence, Satan,” and further strengthens his own authority with a word of truth, which was his rule, Matthew 4:10. Innumerable are the inclinations, objections, temptations, that lie against the profession of the gospel, especially in times of difficulty, particularly against steadfastness and preciseness in profession. That the whole of it be laid aside, or the degrees of it be remitted, is the great design of Satan, the world, and the flesh. To hearken unto what Satan suggests, though but under a pretense of seeing what is in it, to reason with the world, to consult with flesh and blood, contains the first actings of unbelief towards corrupting the heart in order unto a departure from God.

[2dly.] It consists in or acts itself by a secret dislike of something, notionally or practically, in the gospel. This was a common thing in the hearers of our Savior. They disliked this or that in his doctrine or teaching, and that sometimes in things concerning faith, sometimes in things concerning obedience. So did those with whom he treated, John 6. Whilst he taught them in general of the “bread of God that came down from heaven,” they were pleased with it, and cried, “Lord, evermore give us this bread,” John 6:34; but when he began to acquaint them in particular that he himself was that bread, that his flesh was meat, and his blood was drink, — that is, that they were the spiritual nourishment of the souls of men, especially as given for them in his death, — they began to be offended and to murmur, they disliked it, crying, “This is an hard saying; who can hear it?” John 6:60-61. And what was the effect of this dislike? Plain and open apostasy: John 6:66, “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.” And whence did this dislike and murmuring arise? It was merely the acting of their unbelief, as our Lord declared, John 6:63-64, My words, which you so dislike, are spirit and life, “but there are some of you that believe not.” You pretend exceptions against my words, apprehended in your gross and carnal manner, but the true reason of the dislike of them is your own unbelief. God, saith he, hath not as yet given faith unto you; for I told you before, that “no man can come unto me” (that is, believe in me and the gospel) “except it were given unto him of my Father” (John 6:65); and in this doth your unbelief act itself.’This was in matter of faith; and we have an instance unto the same purpose in the matter of obedience. The young man mentioned, Matthew 19, had a great respect unto the teaching of the Lord Christ, for he comes unto him to be instructed in the way to eternal life. And this he did with so much zeal and sincerity, according to his present light, that our Savior approved them in him; for it is said he looked on him and “loved him,” Mark 10:21. And he likes his first lesson or instruction, according to his understanding of it, very well; but when the Lord Jesus proceeded to make a particular trial of him in an especial instance, bidding him sell what he had and give it to the poor, and follow him, this he liked not, but went away sorrowful, Mark 10:21-22.

Now, there are three things in the gospel and the profession of it about which unbelief is apt to act itself by this dislike; which if not obviated, will prove a beginning of turning away from the whole: — First, The purity and spirituality of its worship; secondly, The strictness and universality of its holiness or obedience; and, thirdly, The grace and mystery of its doctrine.

First, It acts itself in dislike against the purity, simplicity, and spirituality of its worship. This was that wherein our apostle had principally to do with the Jews. They were apt, all of them, to admire the old, glorious, pompous worship of the temple, and so to dislike the naked simplicity of gospel institutions. And in like manner was he jealous over the Corinthians,

“lest they should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ,” 2 Corinthians 11:3;

that is, in the worship of God as instituted and appointed by him. This was always a great offense unto all unbelievers, Hence the Pagans of old objected unto the Christians, that they had a religion, or a worship of God, without temples, altars, images, or pompous ceremonies; whence they looked on them as mere atheists. And this dislike of the purity and simplicity of the gospel worship is that which was the rise of, and gave increase or progress unto the whole Roman apostasy. And this is that which, through the unbelief of men, keeps the gospel in other nations under so much reproach, contempt, and persecution at this day. Men like not the plain, unspotted institutions of Christ, but are pleased with the meretricious Roman paint, wherewith so great a part of the world hath been beguiled and infatuated.

Secondly, The severity and universality of obedience which it requireth is another thing that unbelief prevails to put forth dislike against. It makes use of the flesh to this purpose. Something or other it would be gratified in, within doors or without, or at least be spared, and not in all things pursued as the gospel requires. To be always, and in all things, private and public, personal and in all relations, mortified, crucified, and denied, to have no rest given unto it, the flesh likes it not; and unbelief makes use of its aversation to bring the whole soul into a dislike of that doctrine whereby all this is required. Thus Peter tells us of some that “turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them,” 2 Peter 2:21. He gives us not only the nature of the sin of them whom he blames, — that they turn away from the commands of Christ in the gospel; but he gives us also the reason why they do so, — it is because of their holiness. They turn aside from the “holy commandment.” Many professors have been wearied out with an observance of that holiness which this profession doth require. Hence commonly there are most apostates from the strictest ways of profession. The more universally holiness is pressed, the more weary will prevailing unbelief make men of their ways.

Thirdly, It worketh accordingly with respect unto the grace and mystery of the gospel. Of old time it prevailed with many to look upon the whole of it as folly. The “preaching of the cross” was “foolishness” unto them that believed not; that is, the saving of sinners by the substitution of Christ in their room, and the atonement he made by his death and blood-shedding, was so. Now, this being a matter of great importance, I shall crave a little to digress from our immediate work and design, whilst I demonstrate that a secret dislike of the principal mysteries of the gospel is the original and cause of most of the degeneracies, backslidings, and apostasies that are found amongst professors in these latter days.

Our apostle tells us that the “preaching of the cross” was “foolishness to them that perished,” 1 Corinthians 1:18; and they perished merely on that account, — it was foolishness unto them, they liked not the mystery of it, they saw no wisdom in it. And this he said with respect unto Jews and Gentiles, as is manifest in that place. To confirm this, I shall instance in some of the principal heads of the doctrine of the gospel, and show how unbelief prevails with men to dislike them, to reject them, and to look on them as folly.

(First,) And the first is this, — That Jesus of Nazareth, poor and contemptible as he was in the world, generally esteemed by the men of those days wherein he lived to be a seducer, a glutton, a blasphemer, a turbulent person, hated of God and man, being taken as a thief, and hanged upon a tree, and so slain by the consent of the world, Jews and Gentiles, as a malefactor, was the Son of God, the Savior of the world, and is both Lord and Christ. This is the beginning of the gospel, which the apostle preached to the Jews and Gentiles, Acts 2:22-24,

“Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles, and wonders, and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: whom God hath raised up.”

That is, ‘This Jesus of Nazareth which we preach, him whom you remember well enough, he was among you but the other day, and preached unto you, and wrought signs and miracles among you; and you may further remember him by an infallible token, for with wicked hands you crucified and slew him.’‘Well, and what of this Jesus whom we slew and crucified?’‘Why,’saith the apostle, ῾ἀσφαλῶς γινωσκέτω, “Let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made him both Lord and Christ,”’ Acts 2:36. ‘Him! who is that? an appearance of the eternal Word dispensation of grace appearing in him? the Light of God in man?’‘No, no; but τούτον τὸν ᾿ιησοῦν ὅν ὑμεῖς ἐσταυρώσατε, — “that same Jesus whom ye crucified.” That same man whom about eight weeks ago you crucified, him hath he made “both Lord and Christ;” or in his resurrection and exaltation declared so to be.’And this the Holy Ghost lays a sure foundation of in his expression of his incarnation and birth. The angel tells Mary his mother, συλλήψῃ ἐν γαστρὶ, Luke 1:31, “Thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son,” — conceive him by the power of the Most High, and bear him after the manner of women. And then, Luke 1:35, τὸ γεννώμενον ἅγιον, etc., “That holy thing, that shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God.” That “holy thing” was the child which she conceived, afterwards called Jesus of Nazareth. And it was termed a “holy thing,” because it was ἀνυπόστατον, not a person of itself, as conceived by her, had not a personal subsistence in, by, and of itself, but subsisted in the person of the Son of God; on which account it was called “The Son of God.” And when he was born, the angel tells the shepherds, that that day was born “a Savior, Christ the Lord,” Luke 2:11; who, he tells them in the next verse, was βρέφος ἐσπαργανωμένον κείμενον ἐν τῇ φάτνῃ, “the infant that was wrapped in swaddling-clothes, and placed in the manger.” To this purpose do the apostles declare themselves again: Acts 3:13-15,

“The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead.”

Still they direct them to the man whom they saw, and knew, and dealt wickedly and injuriously withal. And this man, he tells them, this Christ, must be received in the heavens “until the restitution of all things,” when he shall come again, Acts 3:19-21. So himself lays this as the foundation of all his preaching, John 8:24, “If,” saith he, “ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins,” — ‘That I, Jesus of :Nazareth, that speak unto you, and converse with you, am the Messiah, the Savior of the world, you shall die and perish for evermore.’This, I say, is one, and one of the first fundamental principles of the gospel; and I shall a little manifest how unbelief dislikes this principle, and by that dislike prevails with men unto an apostasy from the gospel itself.

I might insist upon the great instance hereof in the nation of the Jews, unto whom he was sent first and in an especial manner; but I have done this at large in the first part of our Prolegomena unto this work, whereunto I refer the reader. Only we may mind him how this was fore-expressed concerning them by the prophet Isaiah 53:2,

“He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.”

They could not see or discern any thing in him for which they should receive him, or believe in him, as to the end for which he was sent of God. As Hiram, king of Tyre, when he saw the cities which Solomon had given him, they displeased him, and he called them “Cabul,” and so he rejected them, 1 Kings 9:13; so did the Jews, when they came to see the Lord Christ, they were displeased with him, and reproaching him with many opprobrious terms, utterly rejected him; under the power of which unbelief they yet reject him. I might also insist on the pagans of old, who derided the crucified God of the Christians; but I will leave them under the conquest which the gospel obtained against them. Mention also might be made of the Gnostics, and other ancient heretics, with their endless genealogies and fables, making him to be only an appearance of a man; and though himself said he was a man, and his friends said he was a man, and God himself saith he was a man, and that he “sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,” though he lived and’died a man, yet they would not acknowledge him so to be. But these are long since gone off the stage, although we have yet to do with their offspring under several forms and shapes. The popish figment also of transubstantiation, springing from the same root, utterly overthrowing the human nature of Christ, and our salvation wrought therein, might be on this account remarked. And so also might the imagination of the Mennonites, who will not grant that the man of whom we speak took flesh of the substance of the virgin, but that his flesh was spiritual, as they speak, brought from heaven, and only passing through the womb of the Virgin, that he might appear to be a man. And so said some of old; concerning whom Tertullian says, that according to their opinion, “Mafia non filium gestabat in utero, sed hospitem,” — “Mary bare not her son in her womb, but a guest.” For they utterly dislike it, that one partaker of flesh and blood like ourselves should be this Son of God. And therefore this figment, which overthrows the covenant of God with Abraham, and all the promises of the Messiah, that he should be of his seed, and of the seed of David, at once rejecting the whole Old Testament, and turning the stories of the genealogy of Christ, recorded to manifest the faithfulness of God in his promises, into fables, must be exalted in the room and place of that truth which is so fully, so frequently asserted in the gospel, and which is the prime foundation of all our profession. All these oppositions unto and apostasies from the gospel sprang from this especial cause, or the dislike of unbelief against this principle of the mystery of its doctrine. But I shall particularly instance in two sorts of persons, that are of nearer concernment unto us than any of these: —

And the first is of them whom they call Quakers. It is strange to think into how many forms and shapes they have turned themselves to darken the counsel of God in this matter, and to hide their own apprehension from the light. At their beginning in the world they made (many of them) no scruple plainly to affirm, that all that is spoken concerning Christ was a mere dispensation of God, and an appearance of the Light; but as for such a man as we have described, they had no regard of him. This at first served their turns, and they intended no more by Christ but that which they call the Light of God within them. But what shall we say unto these things? If all the testimonies that we have given unto “the man Christ Jesus,” if all that is spoken of him in the gospel, all that he did, all that he suffered, what he now doth in heaven by intercession, what he shall do at the day of judgment, all that is required of us towards him, in faith, love, and obedience, be not enough to prove him a real individual man, we may certainly be all of us in a mistake as to what we ourselves are in this world, — we may be all dispensations, who have hitherto taken ourselves to be the sons and daughters of men. But it is some while since they seem to have forsaken this imagination, being driven from it by the common expostulations of every ordinary Christian, “What do you think of Jesus that died at Jerusalem?” They have begun in words to acknowledge his person, but yet continue strangely to obscure their thoughts concerning him, and to confound it, or the presence of God in and with him, with their own pretended light. And whence doth this arise? It is merely from the secret dislike that unbelief hath of this mystery of God. Hence they cannot see that “form and comeliness” in him for which he should be desired.

Again, others there are who grant that all we have spoken concerning the human nature of Christ is true, — that he was so born, that he so died, and he was so a man, as we have declared. And this man, say they, was justly called, and is so, the Son of God, because God employed and exalted him unto all power in heaven and earth. But that he should be the eternal Son of God, that the eternal Word should be made flesh, that a divine person should receive the human nature into subsistence with itself, this they utterly reject. This is the way of the Socinians. The testimonies being so many, so plain, so uncontrollable, that are given in the Scripture unto this truth, what is it that can carry men to advance a contradiction unto them to their own ruin? Why, unbelief doth not like this mystery of “God manifested in the flesh.” This insensibly alienates the soul from it; and what men pretend to receive by the conduct of reason and argument, is indeed nothing but prejudices imposed on their minds by the power of unbelief.

(Secondly,) Another main fundamental principle of the gospel is, that by the obedience unto God, death, and blood-shedding of this same Jesus, who was crucified and slain, are redemption, forgiveness of sins, deliverance from the wrath to come, righteousness, and acceptation with God, to be obtained, and by him only.

The other proposition respected the person of Christ, this doth his mediation. And this, in the second place, was insisted on in the first preaching of the gospel That this is the sum of the doctrine of the Scriptures concerning him, himself taught his disciples, Luke 24:45-47, “Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name.” And this the apostles jointly express, exclusively unto all other mediums as to the end proposed, Acts 4:12, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

The great inquiry of men in the world, convinced of an immortal condition, is that which we have expressed, Acts 16:30, “What. must we do to be saved?” This lies in their thoughts more or less all their days, and is rolled in their hearts under that severe notion, Isaiah 33:14,

“Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?”

And of this inquiry there are two parts: —

[First,] How they may obtain forgiveness of sin: Micah 6:6,

“Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt-offerings, with calves of a year old? will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my first- born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”

When a real sense of the guilt of sin is by any means brought upon the soul, it is vehement and urgent, and will give them in whom it is no rest, until they can fix on some way of relief.

[Secondly,] What they shall do for a righteousness, upon the account whereof they may obtain acceptance with God. For it is not enough that men may be one way or other acquitted from sin, but they must be made righteous also. In this case, the Jews sought for righteousness “as it were by the works of the law,” Romans 9:32; for a righteousness they knew they must have, and

“being ignorant of God’s righteousness, they went about to establish their own righteousness,” Romans 10:3.

Now, this head of the gospel that we have mentioned is a direct answer unto these two questions. For in answer unto the first it declares, that by this Jesus Christ alone is forgiveness and remission of sins to be obtained. “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins,”

Ephesians 1:7. See Hebrews 9:12-14. This was, as the gospel declares, the design of God the Father, Romans 3:24-25; and of his own love and good-will, Revelation 1:5. And this the apostles preached ἐν πρώτοις, “amongst the chiefest things” of their message to the world, 1 Corinthians 15:3. And to the second it answers, that by the obedience and suffering of Christ alone is the righteousness inquired after to be obtained: for by his obedience, “the obedience of one,” are “many made righteous,” Romans 5:19. For not only “by him is preached unto us the forgiveness of sins,” but “by him all that believe are justified,” Acts 13:38-39. See Philippians 3:8-9; 1 Corinthians 1:30.

This is another important part of the mystery of the gospel, and that which unbelief greatly dislikes; that is, it is apt to beget in the soul a dislike of it. And a great instance we have in the world of its power and efficacy to draw men off from the gospel; for unbelief in this matter is the real foundation of the whole Papacy. They cannot rest in Christ alone for righteousness and forgiveness of sins. Hence hath sprung their sacrifice of the mass for the quick and dead; hence their indulgences from the treasures of the church; hence their penances and works satisfactory for sin; hence their purgatory, religious houses, pilgrimages, intercession of saints and angels, confessions and absolutions, with the remainder of their abominations. All these things spring from no other root but this, — namely, that from the power of their unbelief, men think it a foolish thing to look for pardon and righteousness solely from other, and not to trust to themselves in anything. And the reason why they have multiplied instances to the same purpose is, cause they can indeed find rest and satisfaction in none, and do therefore please and deceive their souls with this variety. And what is it that hath driven a company of poor deluded souls amongst ourselves to trust unto a fancied light within them, and a feigned perfection in their ways? They cannot think it wise, prudent, safe, they like it not, to rest, to trust for their all upon one who lived and died so long ago. Men make sundry pretences, use divers arguings and pleas, for their turning aside unto their crooked paths, — endeavor by all means possible to justify themselves; but the bottom of all lies here, that this doctrine of the cross is foolishness unto them, and they are under the power of their unbelief, which dislikes the mysteries of it.

[Thirdly,] Another principle of the same mystery is, That the way and means whereby forgiveness of sin, righteousness, and acceptance with God for sinners, are attained by this Jesus Christ, is, that by the sacrifice of himself, his death, and blood-shedding, with the punishment for sin which he voluntarily underwent, God was atoned, his justice satisfied, and his law fulfilled; and that because he had ordered, in his infinite wisdom and sovereignty, with the will and consent of Christ himself, to charge all the sins of all the elect upon him, and to accept of his obedience for them, he undertaking to be their Surety and Redeemer. To clear this principle the gospel teacheth, —

[First,] That notwithstanding all that was visibly done unto Jesus by the Jews and others, yet the hand and counsel of God were in the whole business, designing him thereunto. See Acts 2:22-23; Romans 3:25.

[Secondly,] That his own merciful and gracious goodness concurred herein. However the Jews seemed to hale him up and down as a malefactor, and violently to slay him, yet if his own will had not been in the work, unto another end than what they had in design, they had had no power over him, John 10:18. But he came on set purpose to lay down his life a ransom, Matthew 20:28, and to offer himself a sacrifice for sinners; which he performed accordingly, Ephesians 5:2; Galatians 2:20; Revelation 1:5; Hebrews 1:3.

[Thirdly,] That the end of all this was that which we before laid down, namely, that he might be “made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him,” 2 Corinthians 5:21. So also, Galatians 3:13; Isaiah 53:4-6; Isaiah 53:11; 1 Peter 1:18-19. And against this principle also unbelief riseth up with great power and efficacy in many, and that on sundry accounts; for, —

[First,] That God should comply as it were, and have a hand in that work, for any end of his, wherein Satan, and men as wicked as ever the sun shone upon, did execute the fullness of their rage and villany, and for which he afterwards utterly and miserably destroyed those murderers, is folly to some. Hence were a thousand fables raised of old about the passion of Christ: some turned the whole story into an allegory; some said it was acted only in show and appearance, and not in reality and truth; some, that he was conveyed away, and Barabbas crucified in his stead, with sundry other such foolish abominations.

[Secondly,] Some of late, refusing to see the wisdom, holiness, and righteousness of God in this matter, in bringing about his own counsels, and doing his own work, notwithstanding the interposition of the sins of the worst of men, deny that God determined any thing herein, but left it wholly unto the liberty of the Jews, on the determination of whose wills the whole work of salvation was suspended.

[Thirdly,] Some reject the whole matter itself. That the just should suffer for the unjust, the innocent undergo the punishment due to the guilty, that one should sin and another suffer, — that he whom God loved above all should undergo his wrath for them and their deliverance whom he had grounds of righteousness to hate and destroy, is a foolish thing unto them. This all the Socinians in the world despise. And it is rejected by the Quakers amongst ourselves, and variously corrupted by the Papists and others. And there is none of all these but will plead reasons and arguments for their opinions. But this that we insist on is the true and real ground of their miscarriages. They are under the power of that unbelief which acts itself by a dislike of the mysteries of the gospel. Pretend what they will, it is unbelief alone that is the cause of their apostasy. I might instance in other principles of the like nature and importance, but I should dwell too long on this digression.

[3dly.] It works by and consists in a growing diffidence of the promises and threatenings of the gospel. The great work and duty of faith is to influence the soul unto universal obedience and an abstinence from all sin, out of a regard unto the promises and threatenings of God. So our apostle directs in 2 Corinthians 7:1. And when the efficacy of this influence begins to wear off and decay, it is from the prevalency of unbelief. And there are many ways whereby it works and produceth this effect, to take off the soul from a due regard to the promises and threatenings of the gospel. A sense, liking, love of, and satisfaction in present things, with carnal wisdom, arising from an observation of strange promiscuous events in the world, give a principal contribution hereunto; but these things are not here to be insisted on.

And these things have been spoken to discover the nature and the work of that unbelief, which the apostle here warns and cautions all professors concerning; and we have especially considered it as to its entrance towards a departure from God. And hence we may observe that, —

Obs. 4. The root of all backsliding, of all apostasy, whether it be notional or practical, gradual or total, lies in unbelief.

I have dwelt long already on this matter of unbelief; and I had reason so to do, for this is the bingo on which the discourses of the apostle in this chapter and the next do turn. The nature of it, with its causes, ways and means of prevalency, with its danger and means of prevention, are the things which he lays before them. But I shall confine my discourse within due bounds, and therefore speak unto this proposition only with reference unto that influence which unbelief hath on the heart to render it evil: “Take heed, lest there be in you an evil heart of unbelief,” — καρδία πονηρά, “cor malum.” This is the only place in the New Testament where a disapproved heart hath this adjunct of “evil,” “an evil heart.” It is in other places termed σκληρός, “hard,” and ἀμετανόητος, “impenitent,” Romans 2:5, but here only “evil.” In the Old Testament it is sometimes 11:8, said to be רַע, “evil,” as Jeremiah 3:17; Jeremiah 16:12; Jeremiah 18:12. This the LXX. renders by πονηρός, — that is, “malus,” “perversus,” “scelestus,” “improbus;” one that is “wicked” and “flagitious.” The original of the word would denote one that is industriously wicked; for it is from πένα, by πονέω, “to labor diligently and with industry, though conflicting with difficulties.” Hence the devil, because he is industriously and maliciously wicked, is called ὁ πονηρός, “the wicked one:” “When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh ὁ πονηρός,” — “the wicked one,” Matthew 13:19. So are we taught to pray, ῾ρῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ, Matthew 6:13, “Deliver” (or “rescue”) “us from that evil one.” And it is said, that “the whole world lieth ἐν τῷ πονηρῶ,” 1 John 5:19, — “under the power of that wicked one.” When, therefore, any heart is said to be πονηρά, an evil, wicked, flagitious frame is intended.

Our present inquiry is only how the heart is gradually brought under this denomination by the power and efficacy of unbelief, and that with especial respect unto that particular sin of departing from God. And this is done several ways:—

[1st.] Unbelief sets all the corrupt lusts and affections of the heart at liberty to act according to their own perverse nature and inclination. The heart of man is by nature evil; all the thoughts and imaginations of it are “only evil continually,” Genesis 6:5. It is full of all “corrupt affections,” which act themselves and influence men in all they do. The gospel cometh in a direct opposition unto these lusts and corrupt affections, both in the root and in the fruit of them; for “the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared unto us, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world,”

Titus 2:11-12. There is no greater duty that it chargeth our souls withal than the mortification, crucifying, and destruction of them, and this indispensably, if we intend to be made partakers of the promises of it, Colossians 3:5-8; Romans 8:13. Moreover, it is the first proper work of that faith whereby we believe the gospel, in and upon our own souls, to cleanse them from these lusts and affections. It is the work of faith to purify the heart, being the great means or instrument whereby God is pleased to effect it: “Purifying our hearts by faith,” Acts 15:9. For, receiving the promises, it teacheth, persuadeth, and enableth us to

“cleanse ourselves from all uncleannesses of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God,” 2 Corinthians 7:1.

Now, these two, faith and the gospel, make up our profession, — the one being that wherewith or whereby we profess, the other that which we do profess. And they both concur in this design, namely, the purifying of the heart. So far as these prevail upon us or in us, that work is successful. And where there is no weakening of the lusts of the heart, no restraint laid upon them, no resistance made unto them, there is no profession at all, there is nothing of faith or gospel that takes place; for “they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts,” Galatians 5:25. They have done so actually in some measure or degree. All, then, who have taken upon them the profession of the gospel in reality, although it be only upon the account of light and conviction, have restrained and have curbed them, and taken upon themselves a law of resistance unto them. Hence all of them proceed so far at least as to

“escape the pollutions of the world, through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” 2 Peter 2:20.

Those who attain not hereunto are in no sense to be esteemed such as profess the gospel. But now whenever unbelief beginneth to influence the heart towards the flame described, it sets in the first place these corrupt lusts and affections at liberty to act themselves according to their own nature. And this it doth two ways: —

First, With respect unto the gospel and its efficacy for the mortification of them; for it takes off, weakens, and disarms those considerations which the gospel tenders unto the souls of men for that end. The way and means whereby the gospel of itself worketh towards the mortification of the lusts of the heart is by the proposition of its promises and threatenings unto the minds of men. These work morally upon them; for the consideration of them causeth men to set themselves against all those things which may cause them to come short of the one, or make them obnoxious unto the other, 2 Corinthians 7:1 Now all influence upon the soul unto this end from hence is intercepted by unbelief. Its proper nature and work lies in begetting a disregard of gospel promises and threatenings through a diffidence of them. And hereof we have examples everyday. Men are in a constant way wrought upon by the preaching of the word; that is, their minds are influenced by a taste of the good things proposed and promised in it, and are brought under a sense of the terror of the Lord in its threatenings. The first proper effect hereof in themselves, is the resistance of their lusts and the reformation of their lives thereon. But we see that many of these, losing, through unbelief, a sense of that impression that was on them from the word, have all their lusts let loose unto rage and violence; and so return again like “the dog to his vomit, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire,” as 2 Peter 2:22.

Secondly, With respect unto faith itself. This is evident from the nature of the thing; for where unbelief thrives or grows, there faith must decay and wax weak. But especially it impedes and hinders faith in the work before described, by depriving it of the means and instruments whereby it works, which are care, watchfulness, or vigilancy against sin; for its great design lies in making the soul negligent, careless, and slothful in the opposition of sin. Where this is attained, the whole work of faith is defeated, and lust is set at liberty. And where this is so, it immediately returns to act according to its own corrupt and perverse nature; which, as we have elsewhere at large declared, is “enmity against God.” And this consists both in an aversation from God and an opposition unto him. Look, then, whatever approaches a man in his profession hath made towards God, the work of these lusts and corruptions, now at liberty, is to incline him to withdraw and depart from them. This renders the heart evil, and disposeth it unto an utter departure from the living God.

[2dly.] It renders the heart evil by debasing it, and casting all good, honest, ingenuous, and noble principles out of it. The gospel furnisheth the mind of man with the best and highest principles towards God and man that in this world it is receptive of. This might easily be evinced against all the false and foolish pretences of the old philosophy or present atheism of the world. Whatever there is of faith, love, submission, or conformity unto God, that may ingenerate a return into that image and likeness of him which we fell from by sin and apostasy; whatever is of innocency, righteousness, truth, patience, forbearance, that may render us fruitful, and useful in or needful unto the community of mankind; whatever is pure, lovely, peaceable, praiseworthy, in a man’s own soul and the retirements of his mind, is all proposed, taught, and exhibited by the word of the gospel. Now, principles of this nature do lively ennoble the soul, and render it good and honorable. But the work of unbelief is to cast them all out, at least as to their especial nature communicated unto them by the gospel, which alone brings with it an impress of the image and likeness of God. And when this is separated from any of the things before mentioned, they are of no value. This, then, renders the heart base and evil, and gives it an utter dislike of communion or intercourse with God.

[3dly.] It accumulates the heart with a dreadful guilt of ingratitude against God, which before profession it was incapable of. When a person hath been brought unto the knowledge of the gospel, and thereby vindicated out of darkness, and delivered from the sensuality of the world; and hath moreover, it may be, “tasted of the good word of God, and of the powers of the world to come;” for such a one to draw back, to forsake the Lord and his ways, through the power of unbelief, there is a great aggravation attending his sin, 2 Peter 2:20-21. And when once the heart is deflowered by this horrible sin of ingratitude, it will prostitute itself of its own accord unto all manner of abominations. And for us, it is good to have this spring of all our danger in the course of our profession continually in our eye. Here it lies, the root of it is here laid open; and if it be not continually watched against, all our other endeavors to persevere blameless unto the end are and will be in vain.

[2.] The next thing in the words is that especial evil which the apostle cautions the Hebrews against, as that which a heart made evil by the prevalency of unbelief would tend unto, and which is like to ensue if not prevented in the causes of it; and that is, “departing from the living God:” ᾿εν τῷ ἀποστῆναι ἀπὸ θεοῦ ζῶντος. ῾εν τῷ: that is, say some, εἰς τό, — the sense whereof would be, “so that you should depart.” But ἐν τῷ is more significant and no less proper in this language. And the article thus varied with the infinitive mood denotes a continued act, — “that it should be departing;” — “that the evil heart should work and operate in a course of departing from God.”

᾿εν τῷ ἀποστῆναι. ᾿αφίστημι is a word ἐκ τῶν μέσων, of an indifferent signification in itself, and is used to express any kind of departure, physical or moral, from a person or thing, a place or a principle. Sometimes it is expressive of a duty: 2 Timothy 2:19, “Whosoever nameth the name of Christ, ἀποστήτω ἀπὸ ἀδικίας,” — “let him depart from iniquity.” So also 1 Timothy 6:5. Sometimes it denotes the highest sin: 1 Timothy 4:1, “The Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter season ἀποστήσονται τινὲς τῆς πίστεως,” — “some shall depart from the faith.” And the departure here prophesied of is signally termed ἡ ἀποστασία, “the departure,” or “apostasy, 2 Thessalonians 2:3. So that the word is to be expounded from the subject-matter treated of, and the especial object of it. And it is a word in its moral sense oftener used by our apostle than by all the other sacred writers besides. Once in the gospel it is used absolutely for a sinful falling away, Luke 8:13 : “They believe for a season, καὶ ἐν καιρῷ πειρασμοῦ ἀφίστανται,” — “in the time of persecution they fall away,” they turn apostates. And from this word are the common names of apostates and apostasy taken; that is, the great sin of forsaking or departing from the profession of the gospel. “In discedendo,” say interpreters; Beza, “in desciscendo,” properly. It is, in an evil sense, a revolting, a treacherous defection from truth and duty. It answers unto סוּר, which is used in an indifferent sense, to. depart from any thing, good or evil, and sometimes is applied unto a perverse departure from God; as Hosea 7:14. And in this especial sense it expresseth סָרַר, which is to be perverse, stubborn, and contumacious in turning away from God, or that which is good and right in any kind, so as to include a rebellion in it, as the departure here intended doth; that is, to revolt.

The object of this departure is by our apostle in this place particularly expressed, ἀπὸ θεοῦ ζῶντος, — “ from the living God.” It is plain that it is apostasy from the profession of the gospel which is intended; and we must inquire into the reasons why the apostle doth thus peculiarly express it, by a departure from the living God. I shall propose those which to me seem most natural: —

1st. It may be that these Hebrews thought nothing less than that their departure from the profession of the gospel was a departure from the living God. Probably they rather pretended and pleaded that they were returning to him; for they did not fall off unto idols or idolatry, but returned to observe, as they thought, the institutions of the living God, and for a relinquishment whereof the blaspheming and persecuting part of them traduced our apostle himself as an apostate, Acts 21:28. To obviate this apprehension in them, and that they might not thereby countenance themselves in their defection, which men are apt to do with various pretences, the apostle lets them know that after the revelation of Christ and profession of him, there is no departure from him and his institutions but that men do withal depart from the living God. So John positively declares on the one hand and the other, 2 John 1:9,

“Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.”

In a recession from the gospel or doctrine of Christ, God himself is forsaken. He that hath not the Son, he hath not the Father; as, on the other side, continuance in the doctrine of the gospel secureth us an interest not in the Son only, but in the Father also. He, then, that rejects Christ in the gospel, let him pretend what he will of adhering unto one God, he hath forsaken the living God, and cleaves unto an idol of his own heart; for neither is the Father without the Son, nor is he a God unto us but in and by him.

2dly. It may be he would mind them of the person and nature of him from whom he would prevent their departure, namely, that however in respect of his office, and as he was incarnate, he was our mediator, our apostle, and high priest, yet in his own divine person he was one with his Father and the blessed Spirit, the living God.

3dly. (which either alone or in concurrence with these other reasons is certainly in the words), That he might deter them from the sin he cautions them against by the pernicious event and consequent of it; and this is, that therein they would depart from him who is the great, terrible, and dreadful God, the living God, who is able to punish and avenge their sin, and that to all eternity. And this appears to be in the words, in that he again insists on the same argument afterwards; for to the same purpose he tells them that “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God,” Hebrews 10:31. And as this property of life, as it is in God essentially and causally, whence he is called “The living God,” is exceedingly and eminently accommodated to encourage us unto faith, trust, confidence, and affiance in him, in all straits and difficulties, whilst we are in the way of our duty, — as our apostle declares, 1 Timothy 4:10, “For therefore we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God;” or, ‘This is that which encourageth us unto and supporteth us in all our laborings and sufferings, namely, because he whom we trust in, whom we expect assistance from here, and a reward hereafter, is the living God:’so it is that which deservedly casts the greatest awe and terror upon the minds of men in their sins and rebellion against him. For as this life of God includes in it the notion and consideration of all those properties which hold out encouragements unto us in things present and to come; so it doth also that of those dreadful attributes of his power, holiness, and eternity, which sinners have reason to bethink themselves of in their provocations of him. Thus he frequently prefaceth expressions of his severity against stubborn sinners with חי אָנִי, “I live, saith the LORD” as it were bidding of them to consider what thence they were to expect. And this seems to me the principal reason why the apostle thus states the sin of their apostasy, that it is a departure from the living God.

4thly. He may also so express it, at once to intimate unto them the greatness and folly of their sin. They thought, it may be, it was but the leaving of these or those observances of the gospel; but, saith he, it is a departure, a flagitious defection and revolt, from the living God. And who knows not this to be the greatest sin and highest folly imaginable? To depart from him who will be so great a reward unto them that obey him, and so severe a judge of them that forsake him, what greater guilt or folly is the nature of man capable of?

And this is the evil which the apostle here cautions professors against, which I have insisted on the longer, because it is directly opposite unto that great duty which it is the general design of the epistle to press them unto. And we shall take such observations from this last clause of the verse as the words and the reasons of using them do present unto us; and the first is, that, —

Obs. 5. The malignity and venom of sin is apt to hide itself under many, under any shades and pretences.

I speak not of the evasions and pretexts wherewith men endeavor to cover or countenance themselves in their miscarriages in the world, and unto others, but of those pleas and pretences which they will admit of in their minds, partly to induce their wills and affections unto sin, and partly to relieve and countenance their consciences under sin. Amongst those reasonings which these Hebrews had in themselves about a relinquishment of the gospel and its institutions, they never considered it as an apostasy from the living God. They looked upon it as a peculiar way of worship, attended with difficulties and persecutions, which perhaps they might please God as well in the omission of. By this means did they hide from themselves that mortal malignity and poison that was in their sin. And so it is in every sin. The subtlety and deceit of lust doth still strive to conceal the true and proper nature of sin whereunto it enticeth or is enticed. When Naaman the Syrian would, notwithstanding his conviction, abide in his idol-worship, because of his secular advantage, it is but a going with his master into the house of Rimmon, and bowing there, not that he intended to have any other God but the God of Israel, 2 Kings 5:18; — so long ago had he practically learned that principle which men had not until of late the impudence doctrinally to advance in the world, namely, that an arbitrary rectifying of men’s intentions alters the nature of their moral and spiritual actions. Hence they say, that if one man kill another, not with an intention to kill him, but to vindicate his own honor by his so doing, it is no sin, or at least no great sin, or much to be regarded. And what is this but directly to comply with the deceitfulness of sin, which we have laid down? for none sure is so flagitiously wicked as to make the formal nature of sin their object and end; nor, it may be, is human nature capable of such an excess and exorbitancy, from itself and its concreated principles, but still some other end is proposed by a corrupt design and incitation of the mind, which is a blind unto its wickedness. But of this deceit of sin I have treated at large in another discourse. (6) Therefore, —

Obs. 6. The best way to antidote the soul against sin, is to represent it unto the mind in its true nature and tendency.

The hiding of these was the way and means whereby sin first entered into the world. Thereby did Satan draw our first parents into their transgression. Hiding from them the nature and end of their sin, he ensnared and seduced them. In the same way and method doth he still proceed. This caused our apostle here to rend off the covering and vain pretences which the Hebrews were ready to put upon their relinquishment of the gospel. He presents it here naked unto them, as a fatal defection and apostasy from the living God; and therein gives them also to understand its end, which was no other but the casting of themselves into his revenging hand unto eternity. So dealt Samuel with Saul in the matter of Amalek.

Saul pretended that he had only brought fat cattle for sacrifice; but Samuel lets him know that there was rebellion in his disobedience, abhorred of God like the sin of witchcraft, Indeed, if not all, yet the principal efficacy of temptation consists in hiding the nature and tendency of sin, whilst the mind is exercised with it; and therefore the discovery and due consideration of them must needs be an effectual means to counterwork it and to obviate its prevalency. And this is the principal design of the Scripture, in all that it treats about sin. It establisheth the command against it, by showing what it is, the iniquity, folly, and perversity of it; as also what is its end, or what in the righteousness of God it will bring the sinner unto. Hence the great contest that is in the mind, when it is hurried up and down with any temptation, is, whether it shall fix itself on these right considerations of sin, or suffer itself at the present to be carried away with the vain pleas of its temptation in its attempt to palliate and cover it.

And on this contest depends the final issue of the matter. If the mind keep up itself unto the true notion of the nature and end of sin, through the strength of grace, its temptation will probably be evaded and disappointed. So it was with Joseph. Various suggestions he had made to him, but he keeps his mind fixed on that, “How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” which preserved him and delivered him, Genesis 39:9. But if the mind be prevailed with to admit of those representations of sin which are made unto it in its temptations, sin in the perpetration of it will ensue. And this is the principal part of our wisdom about sin and temp- rations, namely, that we always keep our minds possessed with that notion and sense of the nature and end of sin which God in his word represents unto us, with a complete watchfulness against that which the deceit of lust and the craft of Satan would suggest. Again, —

Obs. 7. Whoever departs from the observation of the gospel and the institutions thereof, doth in so doing depart from the living God; or, an apostate from the gospel is an absolute apostate from God.

This the apostle expressly teacheth the Hebrews in this place. Men think it almost a matter of nothing to play with gospel institutions at their pleasure. They can observe them or omit them as seems good unto themselves. Nay, some suppose they may utterly relinquish any regard unto them, without the least forfeiture of the favor of God. But this will appear to be otherwise; for, —

1st. In their so doing, the authority of God over their souls and consciences is utterly rejected, and so consequently is God himself; for where his authority is not owned, his being is despised. Now, there are various ways whereby God puts forth and manifests his authority over men. He doth it in and by his works, his law, by the consciences or inbred notions of the minds of men. Every way whereby he reveals himself, he also makes known his sovereign authority over us; for sovereign power or authority is the very first notion that a creature can have of its Creator. Now, all these ways of revealing the authority of God are recapitulated in the gospel, God having brought all things unto a head in Christ Jesus, Ephesians 1:10. “All power in heaven and in earth,” — that is, as to the actual administration of it, — is given into his hand, Matthew 28:18; and he is “given” or “appointed to be head over all things,” Ephesians 1:20-22, as we have at large declared on the third verse of the first chapter: God, therefore, doth not put forth or exercise the least of his power but in and by Christ; for “the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son,” John 5:22. Now, the Lord Christ exerciseth this power and authority principally by the gospel, which is the “rod of his power,” Psalms 110:2. Hereunto, then, are reduced all other ways whatever whereby the authority of God is exerted over the souls and consciences of men. And if this be rejected, the whole authority of God is utterly cast off. This, therefore, is done by all who reject, relinquish, or despise the gospel; they forsake God himself, the living God, and that absolutely and utterly. God is not owned where his monarchy is not owned. Let men deal so with their rulers, and try how it will be interpreted. Let them pretend they acknowledge them, but reject the only way, all the ways they have, for the exercise of their authority, and it will doubtless be esteemed a revolt from them.

2dly. There is no other way or means whereby men may yield any obedience or worship unto God but only by the gospel, and so no other way whereby men may express their subjection unto him or dependence upon him; and where this is not done, he is necessarily forsaken. Whatever men may say, or do, or pretend, as to the worship of God, if it be not in and by the name of Christ, if it be not appointed and revealed in the gospel, it is not performed unto the living God, but to an idol of their own hearts; for the only true God is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore by what act or acts soever men may design to give honor unto God, and to own their dependence on him, if it be not done in Christ, according to the gospel, it is all an abomination unto him. He says of all such worship, as he did of the sacrifices of the Israelites, when their hearts went after their idols, Amos 5:26, it is all to Moloch and Chiun, and not to him. Such, I say, is all the worship that men design to offer unto the living God, when not according to the gospel; such was the worship of the Samaritans of old, as our Savior testified; and such is the worship of the Jews and Mohammedans at present. Their pretense of owning one God will not free them from offering their sacred services to Moloch and Chiun, images and stars of gods which they have framed unto themselves. When, therefore, any depart from the gospel, they depart from the living God; because they have no way left unto them whereby they may glorify him as God, and he that doth not so renounceth him. And therefore our apostle, speaking of those heathens who had those notions of one God which some boast of at this day and choose to rest in, affirms plainly that they were ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ, Ephesians 2:12, — “atheists whilst they were in the world.” They knew not how to glorify God by any acceptable worship: and as good not to own God at all as not to glorify him as God; for after God in the first precept hath required that we should have him for our God, and none else, that we may do so, and know how to do so, he required in the second, with the same authority, that we worship and glorify him according unto his own mind and prescription.

3dly. There is no other way whereby we may obtain the least encouraging intimation of the favor or good-will of God towards us, no way whereby his grace or his acceptance of us may be firmed and assured unto us, but this only; and where there is not a sufficient ground hereof, no man can abide with God in a due manner. If men have not a stable foundation to apprehend God to be good, and gracious, and willing to receive them, they will no otherwise respect or esteem him but as the poor Indians do the devil, whom they worship that he may do them no harm. I do know that men have strange presumptions concerning the goodness and inclination of God unto sinners; and according unto them they pretend highly to love God and delight in him, without respect unto the Lord Christ or the gospel: but it were an easy thing to divest their notions of all those swelling words of vanity wherewith they dress them, and manifest them to be mere presumptions, inconsistent with the nature of God and all the revelation that he hath made of himself. Whatever may be apprehended in God of this nature or to this purpose is either his χρηστότης, his natural goodness, kindness, benignity, and love; or his φιλανθρωπία, which includes all the free acts of his will towards mankind for good. And our apostle affirms that the ἐπιφανεία, the revelation, declaration, and appearance of both these, is merely from and by the gospel, or the grace of God by Jesus Christ, Titus 3:4-7; and without this it is impossible but that men will abide in their apostasy from God, or return unto it.

4thly. There is no other way wherein we may look for a reward from God, or hope to come unto the enjoyment of him, but only by the gospel. And this also is necessary, that we may honor him as God, as the living God. This is the end whereunto we were made: and if we leave the pursuit hereof, we cast off all regard unto God; for if God be not considered as “a rewarder of them that diligently seek him,” as in himself an “exceeding great reward,” he is not considered as God. And whoever doth not pursue a design of coming to the enjoyment of God, he hath forsaken him. Now, there is no direction herein or hereunto but the gospel, as Acts 4:12.

And this will discover the great multitude of practical atheists that are in the world. Many there are who have been educated in some observance of the gospel, and some who have been brought under great conviction by the word of it, who do yet, by the power of their lusts and temptations in the world, come to renounce and despise all the institutions, ordinances, and worship of the gospel, and consequently the author of it himself; for it is a vain thing to pretend love or honor unto Christ, and not to keep his commandments However, they would not be reckoned among atheists, for they still acknowledge one, or the one God. But they do herein but industriously deceive their own souls Then they forsake the living God, when they forsake the gospel of his Son.

And let us all know what care and reverence becomes us in the things of the gospel. God is in them, even the living God. Otherwise he will be neither known nor worshipped. His name, his authority, his grace, are enstamped on them all.

Obs. 8. When a heart is made evil by unbelief, it is engaged in a course of sinful defection or revolt from the living God. So that word imports, ἐν τῷ ἀποστῆναι, the sense whereof was explained before.

Hebrews 3:13. — “But exhort one another daily [everyday], whilst it is called To-day, lest any of you [among you] be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

Here lies one means of preventing the evil mentioned in the verse foregoing. And we have in it, as was showed, the duty itself, and the persons concerned in it, the manner and season of its performance, with a limitation of that season, and an especial enforcement from the danger of its neglect, as we shall see in our opening of the words.

First, the duty intended is expressed in the first word, παρακαλεῖτε is “to exhort,” “entreat,” “beseech;” and also “to comfort,” “to refresh,” “to relieve:” and παρακαλέομαι is constantly “to receive comfort” or “consolation,” “to be comforted.” παράκλησις is used in the same variety, sometimes for “comfort” or “consolation,” as Luke 2:25; Acts 9:31, Romans 15:5; 2 Corinthians 1:3-5; — sometimes for “exhortation,” Acts 13:15; Romans 12:8; 1 Timothy 4:13; 2 Corinthians 8:4; 2 Corinthians 8:17. Sometimes interpreters are in doubt whether to render it by “exhortation” or “consolation,” as Acts 15:31; 1 Thessalonians 4:18. In this very epistle it is used in both these senses: for “consolation,” Hebrews 6:18; for “exhortation,” Hebrews 12:5; Hebrews 13:22. Hence the Holy Ghost, in the writings of John the apostle, is called ὁ παράκλητος in the Gospel, John 14:16; John 14:26; John 15:26; John 16:7; and the Lord Christ himself, 1 John 2:1; and this, from the ambiguity of the application of the word, we render in the first place “a comforter,” in the latter “an advocate.”

The first and principal signification of παρακαλέω is “to exhort,” “to desire,” “to call in,” and so it is constantly used in Greek authors, and scarce otherwise; and it is secondarily only “to comfort.” But there is a near affinity between these things; for the way of administering consolation is by exhortation: 1 Thessalonians 4:18, “Comfort one another with these words, — παρακαλεῖτε ἀλλήλους. That is, ‘Exhorting and persuading with one another, by these words administer unto each other mutual consolation. And all exhortation ought to be only by consolatory words and ways, to render it acceptable, and so effectual. So it is observed of Barnabas, who was “a son of consolation,” that he had a great excellency in exhorting men also: Acts 11:23-24,

“When Barnabas came, and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith.”

The word intimates a very prevalent way of exhorting in Barnabas: and that because he was ἀνὴρ ἀγαθός, “a good man;” not in the ordinary sense, a holy, just man; but one that was benign, kind, condescending, apt to comfort and refresh them with whom he had to do. In this sense is ἀνὴρ ἀγαθός used, Romans 5:7. παρακαλεῖν, therefore, “to exhort,” is to persuade with good, meek, and comfortable words, upon grounds of consolation, and unto that end that men may be comforted. This is incumbent on some by virtue of office, Romans 12:8, “He that exhorteth, on exhortation;” and on all believers as occasion doth require, as the next words manifest, declaring the persons concerned in this duty.

῾εαυτοὺς, “vosmetipsos,” Vulg. Lat., and the Rhemists, — “yourselves;” improperly, for the apostle doth not require of every one to exhort himself, nor will the word bear that sense. But ἑαυτούς “yourselves,” is put for ἀλλήλους, that is, “one another,” as also it is Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 4:32; 1 Thessalonians 5:13; — “vos invicem,” “alii alios.” This is incumbent on all believers, mutually to exhort, and to bear the word of exhortation.

The season of the performance of this duty is adjoined, which includeth also the manner of it: καθ᾿ ἑκάστην ἡμέραν. “Daily,” say we, or “every day.” A day is often taken for a season; so that to do a thing daily is to do it in its season. To do it sedulously, heedfully, in every proper season, is to do it daily; for although the expression denotes every day distinctly and separately, yet the sense is not that no natural day be omitted wherein we do not actually discharge this duty towards one another. But plainly two things are intended; —

1. A constant readiness of mind, inclining, inducing, and preparing anyone for the discharge of this duty;

2. An actual discharge of it on all just occasions, which are to be watched for and willingly embraced. So we are commanded to “pray ἀδιαλείπτως,” 1 Thessalonians 5:17, “indesinenter;” that is, without remitting the habitual inclination of the mind unto prayer, or omitting any meet occasion or opportunity for it. So also it is said that we ought πάντοτε προσεύχεσθαι, Luke 18:1, — “to pray always;” which is interpreted, Colossians 4:2, by τῇ προσευχῇ προσκαρτερεῖτε, — “abide” (or “persevere”) “in prayer against all opposition.” In Hebrew, תָּמִיד כָּלאּהַיּוֹם, as Isaiah 51:13, — “continually every day.” καθ ᾿ ἐκάστην ἡμέραν, is “sedulously and constantly,” both as to the frame of our hearts and opportunities of actual performance of this duty. And this these Hebrews now stood in an especial need of, because of the manifold temptations and seductions wherewith they were exercised.

Hereunto is added a limitation of the season of this duty as to its continuance: ῎αχρις οὗ τὸ σήμερον καλεῖται, — “Whilst it is called Today; that is, ‘Be sedulous in the discharge of this duty whilst the season of it doth continue.’The occasion of this expression is taken from what was before discoursed of. There was a day proposed unto the people of old, a season that was called הַיּוֹםor σήμερον, “to-day.” And two things are included in it; —

1. An opportunity as to advantage;

2. A limitation of that opportunity as to duration or continuance.

1. A day of opportunity is intended. The word in the psalm, היּוֹם, had, as was judged on good ground, respect unto some solemn feast wherein the people assembled themselves to celebrate the worship of God; it may be the feast of tabernacles, which was a great representation of the dwelling of the Lord Christ amongst us, John 1:14. This was a season which they were to improve whilst they did enjoy it. But it was typical only. The apostle now declares to these Hebrews that the great day, the great season, of old shadowed out unto their forefathers, was now really and actually come upon them. It was justly called “To-day” with them whilst they enjoyed the gospel.

2. There is a limitation of this day of opportunity included in the words, “Whilst it is called To-day; — ‘whilst the time wherein you live is such a season as to be called a day, that is, a day of grace whilst that season was continued unto them which was prefigured in the day before mentioned. The apostle saw that the day or season of these Hebrews was almost ready to expire. It continued but a few years after the writing of this epistle. This he secretly minds them of, and withal exhorts them to improve their present advantages, and that especially in and unto the discharge of the great duty of mutual exhortation; that so they might prevent among them the great evil of departing from the living God, and that which tends thereunto, in the hardening of their hearts through the deceitfulness of sin. For herein lies the enforcement of the exhortation unto the duty insisted on, namely, from the pernicious consequent of its neglect; wherein first occurs, —

The persons concerned: τὶς ἐξ ὑμῶν, “Any of you,” “any among you;” — ‘any one that is of your society, that is engaged in the same profession with you, and partaker of the same privileges;’‘any of you believing Hebrews.’ And herein the apostle extends his direction unto mutual watchfulness and exhortation unto all, even the meanest of the church.

Secondly, The spring or cause of the evil that is to be feared in the neglect intimated, and that is sin: ῾῾αμαρτία, — a general name for all or any sin. Our apostle constantly useth it to express original sin, the sin of our nature, the root on which all other sins do grow. And this is the sin here intended; the sin that by nature dwelleth in us, that is present with us when we would do good, to hinder us, and is continually working to put forth its venomous nature in actual sins or transgressions. This he calls elsewhere a “root of bitterness,” which springs up unto defilement, Hebrews 12:15.

Thirdly, There is the way or means whereby this sin worketh to produce the effect expressed, and that is by deceit: ᾿απάτῃ τῆς ἀμαρτίας. Vulg. Lat., “fallacia peccati;” and the Rhemists thence, “the fallacy of sin,” — somewhat improperly, considering the ordinary use of that word, being taken only for a caption or deceit in words. But yet there is a fallacy in every sin; it imposeth paralogisms or false arguings on the mind, to seduce it. ᾿απάτη is “deceit,” and signifies both the faculty of deceiving, the artifice used in deceiving, and actual deceit, or deceiving itself. The derivation of the word gives some light unto the nature of the thing itself. ᾿απατάω is from privative, and πάτος, as Eustathius and the Etymologist agree. πάτος; is “via trita,” “a beaten way,” “a path.” So that ἀπατάω is to “draw any one out of the right way,” the proper beaten path. And it is well rendered by “seduco,” that is, “seorsum duco,” “to lead aside,” “to seduce.” But it is of a larger sense, or “by any ways or means to deceive,” And ἀπάτη principally denotes an innate faculty of deceiving rather than deceit itself. ᾿απάτη τοῦ πλούτου, Matthew 13:22, “the deceitfulness of riches;” and ἀπάτη τῆς ἀδικίας, 2 Thessalonians 2:10, “the deceitfulness of unrighteousness;” is that aptitude that is in riches and unrighteousness, considering the state and condition of men in this world, and their temptations, to deceive them with vain hopes, and to seduce them into crooked paths. Once it is put for sin itself: Ephesians 4:22, κατὰ τὰς ἐπιθυμίας τῆς ἀπάτης, — “According to the lusts of deceit:” that is, of sin, which is deceitful; unless it may be rendered by the adjective, ἀπατηλοῦς, or ἀπατήτους, as it is done by ours, “deceiving” (or “deceitful”) “lusts.” See 2 Peter 2:13. Here, as it is joined with “sin,” as an adjunct of it, it denotes not its acting primarily, but that habitual deceit that is in indwelling sin, whereby it seduceth men and draweth them off from God.

Lastly, The evil itself particularly cautioned against is expressed in that word σκληρυνθῇ, “should be hardened;” of the sense and importance whereof we have spoken fully on the foregoing verses. The design, then, of this verse is to prescribe a duty unto the Hebrews, with the manner of its performance, and the season they had for it, which might prevent their departure from God through an evil heart of unbelief, by preserving it from being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin; our concernment wherein will be manifest in the ensuing deductions from it: —

Obs. 1. Sedulous mutual exhortation is an eminent means to obviate and prevent the design of the deceitfulness of sin.

The apostle having declared the pernicious consequence of departing from God through the deceitfulness of sin, and the danger that professors are in of so doing, singles out this duty as a signal means of its prevention. And hereby, as great weight is laid upon it, so great honor is done unto it. We may, therefore, do well to consider both the nature of it and the manner of its performance; for its efficacy unto the end proposed depends merely on its institution. There are many practical duties that are neglected because they are not understood; and they are not understood because they are supposed to have no difficulty in them, but to be exposed to every lazy and careless inquiry. High notions, curious speculations, with knotty controversies, are thought to deserve men’s utmost diligence in their search and examination; but for these practical duties, it is generally supposed that they are known sufficiently at a word’s speaking, if they were but practiced accordingly. Yet it will be found that the great wisdom of faith consists in a spiritual acquaintance with the true nature of these duties; which indeed are therefore practically neglected because they are not doctrinally understood. I shall therefore offer somewhat here briefly towards the right understanding of the nature of this duty and the manner of its performance; and to this purpose some things we are to observe with respect unto the persons that are to perform it, and some thing with respect unto the duty itself: —

First, For the persons concerned, this duty of exhortation is incumbent on some by virtue of especial office, and on others by virtue of especial love.

1. Some it is expected from upon the account of their office; so it is of all ministers of the gospel The duty of constant exhortation, — that is, of persuading the souls of men unto constancy and growth in faith and obedience, unto watchfulness and diligence against the deceitfulness of sin, and that from the word of truth, in the name and authority of Christ, — is the most important part of their ministerial office. This are they diligently to attend unto: ᾿ο παρακαλῶν, ἐν τῇ παρακλήσει, Romans 12:8; — “Let him that exhorteth” (his office taketh name from this part of his work) “attend unto” (or “abide in”) “exhortation.” This is it which is required of him, and will be expected from him. So our apostle distributes the whole ministerial work into three parts, enjoining their observance unto his son Timothy: 1 Timothy 4:13, “Diligently attend,” saith he, τῇ ἀναγνώσει, “to reading;” that is, studying and meditating on the holy Scriptures, for his own information and growth, — which ministers ought to do all their days, and not to sit down lazily with a pretense of their attainments: and secondly, τῇ παρακλήσει, “to consolatory exhortation,” — the duty before us; and lastly, τῇ διδασκαλίᾳ, “to doctrinal instruction,” for the enlightening and informing of the minds of his disciples. These are the principal duties of an evangelical minister. So he again conjoins teaching and exhortation, as the two main parts of preaching, 1 Timothy 6:2. And these he would have a minister to be instant in, or insist upon, εὐκαίρως, ἀκαίρως, “in and out of season,” 2 Timothy 4:2, — a proverbial expression denoting frequency and diligence. Where this is neglected by any of them, they deal treacherously with God and the souls of men. But this ministerial work is not that which is here intended. But,

2. There is that which is mutual among believers, founded in their common interest, and proceeding from especial love. And this especial love is that which distinguisheth it from another duty of the same nature in general with this, which we owe unto all mankind; for the eternal law of nature binds us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Now, we neither do nor can love any without endeavoring of their good, and effecting of it according to our power. And herein is comprised a persuading of men unto what is good for them, and a dehorting them from that which is morally evil and pernicious, as occasions and opportunities are offered. Titus dealt Lot with the Sodomites; whom the Holy Ghost therefore commends, though they reviled him as a pragmatical intruder into their concernments. So God and the world have very different measures and touchstones of moral duties. But there is somewhat special in the duty here intended; for it is confined unto them who are brethren in the same fellowship of professing the gospel, 2 Timothy 4:1, and proceeds from that mutual love which is wrought in them by the Spirit of Christ, and required of them by the law of Christ. And this differs from that philanthropy, or love to mankind in general, which ought to be in us; for they have different principles, different motives, different effects, and different ways of expression. The one is an inbred principle of the law of nature, the other an implanted grace of the Holy Ghost; the one required from a common interest in the same nature, the other from an especial interest in the same new nature. In brief, the one is a general duty of the law, the other an especial duty of the gospel. I say, this especial love is the spring of this mutual exhortation.

Secondly, And to the right performance of it the things ensuing do appertain: —

1. That they who perform it find in themselves an especial concernment in the persons and things with whom and about which they treat in their exhortations. It will not admit of any pragmatical curiosity, leading men to interpose themselves in matters wherein they are no way concerned. “Knowing,” saith the apostle, τὸν φόβον τοῦ κυρίου, ἀνθρώπους πείθομεν, 2 Corinthians 5:11; — ‘The reason why we exhort men, orpersuade them to their duty, is because of our compassion towards them, inasmuch as we know the terror or dread of God, with whom in this matter they have to do, and that it is φοβερὸν, a very fearful thing to fall into his hands when he is provoked,’Hebrews 10:31. If men find not themselves really concerned in the glory of God, and their hearts moved with compassion towards the souls of men, whether they are in office in the church or not, it will be their wisdom to abstain from this duty, as that which they are no way fitted to discharge.

2. An especial warranty for the particular exercise of this duty is required of us. Our duty it is in general to exhort one another, by virtue of this and the like commands; but as unto the especial instances of it, for them we must look for especial warranty. Those who shall engage into this or any other duty at adventures will but expose themselves and it to contempt. Now this especial warranty ariseth from a due coincidence of rule and circumstances. There are sundry particular eases wherein direct and express rule requires the discharge of this duty; as

(1.) In ease of sin; Leviticus 19:17,

“Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbor, and not suffer sin upon him.”

For even rebukes belong to this general head of exhortation, nor are they ever to be without it.

(2.) Of ignorance in the truth: so dealt Priscilla and Aquila with Apollos when they instructed him in the way of God, Acts 18:24-26. And many the like cases are instanced in. Add unto such rules a due consideration of circumstances, relating unto times, seasons, persons, and occasions, and it will form the warranty intended.

3. Especial wisdom, understanding, and ability, are hereunto required. It is an easy thing to spoil the best duty in the manner of its performance: and as other things may spoil a duty, so a defect in spiritual skill for the performance of it can never suffer it to be right. If men, then, have not a sound judgment and understanding of the matter about which this mutual exhortation is to be exercised, and of the way whereby it is to be managed, they may do well to leave it unto them who are better furnished with “the tongue of the learned to know how to speak a word in season;” — I mean as to the solemn discharge of it; otherwise occasional mutual encouragements unto faith and obedience are the common and constant duties of all believers. And the apostle speaks of the generality of Christians in those primitive times, that they were so “filled with all knowledge” as that they were “able to admonish one another,” Romans 15:14; wherein as he requires an ability for it, so he ascribes it unto them And unto them it belongs to see, —

(1.) That it be done with words of truth. It is truth alone that in things of this nature is accompanied with authority, and attended with efficacy. If there be any failure in this foundation, the whole superstructure will sink of itself. Those, then, who undertake this duty must be sure to have a word of truth for their warrant, that those who are exhorted may hear Christ speaking in it; for whatever influence other words or reasonings may have on their affections, their consciences will be unconcerned in them. And this should not only be virtually included in what is spoken, but also formally expressed, that it may put forth its authority immediately and directly. As exhortations that fail in truth materially (as they may, for men may exhort and persuade one another to error and false worship) are pernicious, so those which are not formally spirited or enlivened by an express word of Scripture are languid, weak, and vain.

(2.) That it may be managed, unless especial circumstances require some variation, with words good and comfortable, words of consolation and encouragement. The word here used, as hath been shown, signifies to comfort as well as to exhort. Morose, severe expressions become not this duty, but such as wisdom will draw out from love, care, tenderness, compassion, and the like compliant affections. These open and soften the heart, and make the entrance of the things insisted on smooth and easy into it.

(3.) That it be accompanied with care and diligence for a suitable example in the practice and walking of the persons exhorting. An observation of the contrary will quickly frustrate the weightiest words that look another way. Exhortation is nothing but an encouragement given unto others to walk with us or after us in the ways of God and the gospel. “Be followers of me,” saith our apostle, “as I am of Christ.” And these are some of the heads on which we might discourse of this duty; which in that great degeneracy of Christianity whereinto the world is fallen, were not unnecessary to do, but I must not too much enlarge upon particulars: —

Obs. 2. Gospel duties have an especial efficacy attending them in their especial seasons: “While it is called To-day.” Every thing hath its beauty, order, and efficacy from its proper season. Again, —

Obs. 3. We have but an uncertain season for the due performance of most certain duties. How long it will be called “To-day,” we know not. The day of our lives is uncertain. So is the day of the gospel, as also of our opportunities therein. The present season alone is ours; and, for the most part, we need no other reason to prove any time to be a season for duty but because it is present.

Obs. 4. The deceit which is in sin, and which is inseparable from it, tends continually to the hardening of the heart. This is that which is principally taught us in these words; and it is a truth of great importance unto us, which might here be properly handled, but having at large discoursed of the whole of the deceitfulness of sin in another treatise,(7) I shall not here resume the discussion of it.

Hebrews 3:14. — “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence firm unto the end.”

This is the last part of this fourth περιοχή, or section of this chapter. As to its coherence with the verses foregoing, it containeth an enforcement of the general exhortation unto perseverance, and the avoidance of backsliding or apostasy in all the causes and tendencies unto it, as also of the particular duties which the apostle had now proposed as effectual means unto those ends: for he lets them know that all their interest in Christ, and all the benefits they did expect or might be made partakers of by him, did depend upon their answering his exhortation unto constancy and perseverance in their profession; and, moreover, that whereas men are apt to wax weary and faint, or to grow slothful in the course of their profession, sometimes so soon almost as they are entered into it, unless they continue the same diligence and earnestness of endeavors as at the first, so as to abide steadfast unto the end, they would have no benefit either by Christ or the gospel, but rather fall assuredly under that indignation of God which he had newly warned them of. This in general is the design of the words.

In the particulars there are: —

1. A state and condition expressed from whence the force of the argument is taken. “We are made partakers of Christ.”

2. An application of that condition unto ourselves, as to the way whereby it may be declared and evidenced: “If we hold fast the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.” The causal connection, γάρ, “for,” shows the respect of these words unto those foregoing, according as we have declared it; and it manifests that the apostle induceth an enforcement of his preceding exhortation.

The state and condition intimated is expressed in these words, ΄έτοχοι γεγόναμεν τοῦ χριστοῦ. γεγόναμεν denotes some time past, “We have been made:” which excludes one application of the words, namely, unto a future participation of Christ in glory, which here should be promised, but suspended upon the condition of our holding steadfast the beginning of our confidence unto the end; as if it were said, ‘We are made partakers of Christ,’that is, we shall be so hereafter, ‘in case we continue constant and persevere;’which sense (if it be so) is embraced by those who are ready to lay hold on all appearing advantages of opposing the assurance and perseverance of believers. But a present state is here declared, and that which is already wrought and partaken of. And, indeed, the consideration of this word doth rightly state the relation of the several parts of the words mentioned: “We are made partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our confidence;” that is, we are so thereby, either causally and formally, or interpretatively and declaratively. If in the first sense, then our participation of Christ depends on our perseverance unto the end, nor can we come unto the one until we have attained the other. But this is contrary to the text, which supposeth us actually instated in that participation, as the words necessarily require. If it be in the latter sense, then our perseverance is enjoined as an evidence of our participation of Christ, that whereby it may be tried whether it be true and genuine, — which if it be, it will be producing this effect; as James requires that we should try or evidence and manliest our faith by our works, of what sort it is.

We are made μέτοχοι τοῦ χριστοῦ, “partakers of Christ.” This expression is nowhere used but only in this place. The word μέτοχος itself is but once used in the New Testament, but only by our apostle; and μετέχω, from whence it comes, not at all but by him. And he interprets it by “communion,” or “ participation:” for affirming that “the bread which we break is κοινωνία τοῦ σώματος τοῦ χριστοῦ, “the communion of the body of Christ,” 1 Corinthians 10:16, he adds, πάντες ἐκ τοῦ ἑνὸς ἄρτου μετέχομεν, ,” 1 Corinthians 10:17, “We all partake of that one bread;” which is a sacramental expression of the same thing here intended. Most expositors suppose the name Christ to be here taken metonymically for the benefits of his mediation, in grace here, and right to future blessedness. Some suppose it to be only an expression of being a disciple of Christ, and so really to belong unto him. But the true and precise importance of the words may be learned from the apostle in his use of those of an alike signification with reference unto Christ himself, Hebrews 2:14 : “Because the children are partakers of flesh and blood,” — that is, because those whom he was to redeem were men, partakers of human nature, — καὶ αὐτὸς παραπλησίως μετέσχε τῶν αὐτῶν, “He himself in like manner took part of the same.” He was partaker of us, partook of us. How? By taking flesh and blood, that is, entire human nature, synecdochically so expressed, to be his own, as he expresseth it, Hebrews 2:16, “He took not on him the nature of angels, but he took on the seed of Abraham;” that is, the nature of man derived from the loins of Abraham, according to the promise made unto him. How, then, are we partakers of him, partakers of Christ? It is by our having an interest in his nature, by the communication of his Spirit, as he had in ours by the assumption of our flesh. It is, then, our union with Christ that is intended, whereby we are made “members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones,” Ephesians 5:30. A participation of the benefits of the mediation of Christ is included in these words, but not firstly intended, only as a consequent of our intimate union with him. And this the Syriac translation seems to have understood, reading the words by אֶתְלַמַן נֵּיר עַם מְשִׁיחָא, — “We are mingled” (or “mixed”) “with Christ;” that is, joined with him, united unto him. And this is that which the apostle puts to the trial, as the hinge on which their present privileges and future happiness did entirely depend. And this is the sense which Chrysostom and the Greeks that follow him do fix upon. Saith he,

τί ἐστι μέτοχοι γεγόναμεν τοῦ χριστοῦ; μετέχομεν αὐτοῦ, φησιν· ἕν ἐγενὸμεθα ἡμεῖς καὶ αὐτὸς, εἴπερ αὐτὸς μὲν κεφαλὴ, φῶμα δὲ ἡμεῖς, συγκληρονὸμοι καὶ σύσσωμοι. ῞εν σῶμά ἐσμεν, ἐκ τῆς σαρκὸς αὐτοῦ, φησι, καὶ ἐκ τῶν ὀστέων αὐτοῦ — “What is it to be ‘partakers of Christ?’He and we are made one he the head, we the body, co-heirs and incorporated with him. We are one body with him, as he speaks, of his flesh and bones.”

So he. The trial and evidence hereof is declared in the last words,

᾿εάνπερ τὴν ἀρχὴν τῆς ὑποστάσεως μέχοι τέλους βεβαίαν κατάσχωμεν — “If so be that we hold fast” (or “steadfast”) “the beginning of our confidence unto the end.”

So we. It is by all agreed, that, for the substance of it, the same matter is here intended as in Ephesians 5:6; and that that which is there called καύχημα τῆς ελπίδος, “the glorying of hope,” is here termed ἀρχὴ τῆς ὑποστάσεως, “the beginning of confidence;” because it is said of each of them that they are to be “kept steadfast unto the end.” But the expression here used is singular, and hath left an impression of its difficulty on most translations and expositions. Hence hath arisen that great variety that is amongst them in rendering and expounding of these words, “Initium substantiae ejus,” saith the Vulgar; and the Rhemists from thence, “The beginning of his substance,” adding “his” to the text. Arias Montan. and Erasmus, “Principium substantive;” — “The beginning of substance.” Beza, “Principium illud quo sustentamur;” — “That beginning” (or “principle”) “whereby we are sustained.” Castalio, “Hoc argumen-turn ab initio ad finem usque;” — “This argument from the beginning to the end.”

Syriac, “From the beginning unto the end, if we abide in this substance,” or “foundation.” Ethiopic, “If we persevere to keep this new testament.” We, “The beginning of our confidence.” By which variety it appears that some know not how to express the words, as not well understanding of them, and that others were not satisfied with the conjectures of their predecessors. Neither are expositors more agreed about the meaning of the words. Some by ἀρχὴ τῆς ὑποστάσεως understand the gospel, some faith, some hope, some confidence, some Christ himself. Most fix on faith to be intended, which they say is termed ὑπόστασις, or “substance,” because it is that which supports us, causeth us to subsist in Christ, as the just do live by faith. But it may not be amiss to inquire a little more exactly into the proper emphasis and importance of this expression.

῾υπόστασις properly signifies “substance.” It is applied unto somewhat distinct in the being of the Deity, Hebrews 1:3, where it is said that theSon is the “express image of the Father’s hypostasis;” and there it can signify nothing but an especial manner of existence or subsistence in the divine ture, — that is, a person; whence the eastern church first, and after the western, agreed in three hypostases in the divine nature, — that is, as we speak, three persons, or three different manners of the subsistence of the same individual being. In things human it denotes acts, and not substances. And as it is used only by our apostle, so it is used by him variously; as for confidence, 2 Corinthians 9:4, ᾿εν τῇ ὑποστάσει ταύτῃ τῆς καυχήσεως, — In this confidence of boasting; whence ours have translated it in this place “confidence.” And it may be the rather, because as it is there joined with καύχησις, so he maketh use of καύχγημα in the same subject with this, 2 Corinthians 9:6. But the ὑπόστασις of the apostle in that place was not a confidence of boldness, but that infallible certainty which he had of his apostleship wherein he gloried. That was it which he stood firmly on. 2 Corinthians 11:1 of this epistle, the apostle maketh use of it in the description he gives of faith; yet so as to denote an effect of it, and not its nature: ῎εστι δὲ πίστις, ἐλπιζομένων ὑπόστασις, — “Faith is the hypostasis of things hoped for;” “Illud quo extant quae sperantur,” — “That whereby the things that are hoped for do exist.” Things that are absolutely in themselves future, absent, unseen, are, as unto their efficacy, use, benefit, fruits, and effects, made by faith present unto the soul, and have a subsistence given them therein. It is not, then, faith itself, but an effect of it, that is there described by the apostle.

If, then, by “the beginning of our substance,” “subsistence,” or “confidence,” faith is intended, it is because it is that which gives us all these things by our interest in Christ and the benefits of his mediation. But I confess the expression is abstruse in this sense, and difficult to be understood.

It may therefore be understood of the gospel itself, which is called “the beginning of our confidence,” because it is the means of begetting faith in us, and producing that profession wherein we are to persevere; and this sense is embraced by some expositors.

There seems yet to me that there is another more genuine sense of the word, suited to the scope of the place and design of the apostle, without wresting it from its native signification. We have showed that our partaking of Christ is our being united unto him; and the ὑπόστασις, “hypostasis,” which on that union we are bound to preserve and maintain, is our subsistence in Christ, our abiding in him, as the branches in the vine. So the word signifies, and so it is here used. And although Chrysostom supposes that it is faith which is intended, yet it is on the account of this effect of our subsistence in those things that he so judgeth: τί ἐστιν ἀρχὴ τῆς ὑποστάσεως; τὴν πίστιν λέγει δ᾿ ἧς ὑπέστημεν, καὶ γεγενήμεθα καὶ συνουσιώθημεν, ὡς ἄν τις εἵποι· — “He speaks of faith, by which we subsist” (in Christ), “and are begotten, and, as I may so say, consubstantiated with him;” that is, solidly, substantially united unto him. Now, our subsistence in Christ is twofold: —

1. By profession only, which is the condition of the branches in the vine that bear no fruit, but are at length cut off and cast into the fire;

2. By real union. And the trial of which of these it is that we are partakers of, depends on our perseverance.

τὴν ἀρχὴν τῆς ὑποστάσεως. Beza, “Principium illud quo sustentamur,” — “That principle” (or “beginning”) “whereby we are sustained.” But this I do not understand; for it makes ἀρχή, “the beginning,” to denote the thing itself recommended unto us, and which we are to preserve, whereof the hypostasis mentioned is only an effect, or that whereby the work of the beginning is expressed. But ἀρχή is nowhere used in any such sense, nor doth it appear what should be intended by it. Besides, it is plainly here an adjunct of our subsistence in Christ; — the beginning of it. And this may be considered two ways; —

1. Absolutely, it is begun in profession or reality, and it is to be continued;

2. Emphatically, for the usual attendancies of our faith and profession at their beginning. The beginning of our engagement’unto Christ is for the most part accompanied with much love, and other choice affections, resolution, and courage; which without great care and watchfulness we are very ready to decay in and fall from. And in this sense it is here used.

The remainder of the words, μέχρι τέλους βεβαίαν κατάσχωμεν, “Hold steadfast unto the end,” have been opened on 2 Corinthians 11:6, and we need not again insist upon them.

I shall only add, that the apostle joining himself here with the Hebrews in this matter, “We are partakers, if we hold fast,” he shows that this is a general and perpetual rule for professors to attend unto, and the touchstone of their profession, by which it may be tried at the last day. And hence are the ensuing observations: —

Obs. 1. Union with Christ is the principle and measure of all spiritual enjoyments and expectations.

The apostle sums up all, both what we do enjoy by the gospel at present, and what right unto or expectation we have of future blessedness and happiness, in this one expression, “We are partakers of Christ.” That our union with him is thereby intended hath been declared in the exposition of the words. The nature of this union, and wherein it doth consist, I have elsewhere manifested and vindicated; (8) I shall therefore here only confirm the proposition laid down. It is the principle and measure of all spiritual enjoyments. For as Christ is unto us “all, and in all,” Colossians 3:11, so “without him we can do nothing,” we are nothing, John 15:5; for whereas we live, “it is not we, but Christ liveth in us,” Galatians 2:20. And the truth hereof appears, —

First, Because it is itself, in the order of nature, the first truly saving spiritual mercy, the first vital grace that we are made partakers of; and that which is the first of any kind is the measure and rule of all that ensues in that kind. As is the root, so are the branches and the fruit. They do not only follow the nature of it, but live upon its supplies. All our grace is but a participation of the root, and therein of the fatness of the olive tree; and we bear not the root, but the root bears us, Romans 11:17-18. Whatever precedes this is not true saving grace; and whatever follows it proceeds from it: —

1. Whatever work of excision or cutting off there may be of a branch from the wild olive, it is its incision into the true olive which communicates unto it life and fruit-bearing; for after it is cut off from the wild olive and dressed, it may either be cast away or left to wither. Whatever work of conviction by the word of the law, or of illumination by the word of the gospel, or of humiliation from both by the efficacy of the Spirit in all, there may be wrought in the minds and souls of men, yet there is nothing truly saving, vital, and quickening in them, until they be implanted into Christ. Under any other preceding or preparatory work, however it be called, or whatever may be the effects of it, they may wither, die, and perish. Men may be so cut off from the old stock of nature as not to have sin grow or flourish in them, not to bear its blossoms, nor visible fruit, and yet have no principle of grace to bring forth fruit unto holiness. And

2. That whatever grace follows it proceeds from it, is evident from the nature of the thing itself. For our uniting unto Christ consisteth in or immediately ariseth from the communication of his Spirit unto us; for “he that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit,” 1 Corinthians 6:17. Our conjunction unto him consists in our participation of the same Spirit with him. And by this Spirit is Christ himself, or the nature of Christ, formed in us, 2 Peter 1:4. And if all the grace that we are or can be made partakers of in this world be but that nature, in the several parts and acts of it, that from whence it proceeds, whereby it is formed in us, must needs in order of nature be antecedent unto it. No grace we have, or can have, but what is wrought in us by the Spirit of Christ. Whence else should we have it? Doth it grow naturally in our own gardens? or can other men plant and water it, and give it life and increase? Nay, but all grace is the fruit and effect of the Spirit, as the Scripture everywhere declares. See Galatians 5:22-23. It implies, then, a contradiction, that any one should have any lively saving grace., and not antecedently in order of nature receive the Spirit of grace from Christ: for he is the cause, and grace is the effect; or, as he is savingly bestowed, according to the promise of the covenant, he is the spring and fountain, or efficient cause, of all grace whatever. Now, our union with Christ, our participation of him, consists in the inhabitation of the same Spirit in him and us; and the first work of this Spirit given unto us, bestowed upon us, is to form Christ in us, whereby our union is completed. But it will be asked, whether the Spirit of Christ doth come into a soul that hath no grace? — if so, then he may be in a graceless person. I answer, that although this in order of nature is consequent unto the communication of the Spirit unto us, as the effect is and must be to the cause, as light and heat in the beam are unto the sun, yet it hath a simulty of time with it; as Austin speaks well of the original of the soul, “Creando infunditur, et infuudendo creatur.” God doth not first create a soul, giving it an existence of its own, without union with the body, but creates it in and by its infusion. So the Spirit doth not come unto us, and afterward quicken or sanctify us; but he doth this by his coming unto us, and possessing our hearts for and with Christ. This the apostle calls the forming of Christ in us, Galatians 4:19, ῞αχρις οὗ μορφωθῇ χριστὸς ἐν ὑμῖν, “Until Christ be formed” (or “fashioned’) “in you,” — as a child is fashioned or formed in the womb; that is, ‘until the whole image and likeness of Christ be imparted unto and implanted upon your souls.’This is the new creature that is wrought in every one that is in Christ; that every one is who is in Christ: for the introduction of this new spiritual form gives denomination unto the person. He that is “in Christ Jesus is a new creature,” 2 Corinthians 5:17. And this is “Christ in us, the hope of glory,” Colossians 1:27.

1. It is “Christ in us:” for,

(1.) It is from him, he is the author of it, and thence he is said to be “our life,” Colossians 3:4.

(2.) It is like him, it is his image, and by and through him the image of God, 2 Corinthians 3:18; Ephesians 4:23-24.

(3.) It is that which gives us a spiritual continuity unto Christ; for being united unto him as members unto the head, there must be a constant communicative motion of blood and spirit between him and us, which is hereby, Ephesians 4:16; Colossians 2:19.

And without this we are without Christ, or so separated from him as that we can do nothing, John 15:5; for suppose a believer to stand “seorsum,” alone by himself, χωρὶς χριστοῦ, at a distance from Christ, without a course and recourse of spiritual supplies from him, and he can do nothing but die. Cut off a member from the body, dissolve its natural continuity to the head, and all the world cannot fetch life into it. Take a member., suppose a hand, lay it as near the head as you will, bind it to it, yet if it hath not a natural continuity with the head, it will not live. It is so here. A member separated from Christ hath no life. Let it seem to lie near the Head by profession and many engagements, if it have not this spiritual continuity unto Christ, it hath no life in it.

2. It is the “hope of glory,” —

(1.) as the kernel is the hope of fruit;

(2.) as a pledge or earnest is the hope of the whole contract. In this forming of Christ in us are we made partakers of all grace and holiness in the principle and root of them, for therein doth this image of God in Christ consist. Now, this proceeding from our union, the latter is, and must be, before it in order of nature, and so be the rule, measure, and cause of all that ensues.

Secondly, It is the first in dignity; it is the greatest, most honorable, and glorious of all graces that we are made partakers of. It is called “glory,” 2 Corinthians 3:18. The greatest humiliation of the Son of God consisted in his taking upon him of our nature, Hebrews 2:8-9. And this was “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich,” — rich in the eternal glory, the glory that he had with the Father before the world was, John 17:5, as being in himself “God over all, blessed for ever,” Romans 9:5, — “for our sakes he became poor,” 2 Corinthians 8:9, by taking on him that nature which is poor in itself, infinitely distanced from him, and exposed unto all misery; which our apostle fully expresseth, Philippians 2, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.” There was indeed great grace and condescension in all that he did and humbled himself unto in that nature, as it follows in that place, “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross,” Philippians 2:8; but his assumption of the nature itself was that whereby most signally ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσε, he “emptied” and “humbled himself, and made himself of no reputation.” On this all that followed did ensue, and on this it did depend. From hence all his actings and sufferings in that nature received their dignity and efficacy. All, I say, that Christ, as our mediator, did and underwent in our nature, had its worth, merit, use, and prevalency from his first condescension in taking our nature upon him; for from thence it was that whatever he so did or suffered, it was the doing and suffering of the Son of God. And, on the contrary, our grace of union with Christ, our participation of him and his nature, is our highest exaltation, the greatest and most glorious grace that we can be made partakers of in this world. He became poor for our sakes, by a participation of our nature, that we through his poverty may be rich in a participation of his, 2 Corinthians 8:9. And this is that which gives worth and excellency unto all that we may be afterwards intrusted with. The grace and privileges of believers are very great and excellent, but yet they are such as do belong unto them that are made partakers of Christ, such as are due to the quickening and adorning of all the members of his body; as all privileges of marriage, after marriage contracted, arise from and follow that contract. For being once made co- heirs with Christ, we are made heirs of God, and have a right to the whole inheritance. And, indeed, what greater glory or dignity can a poor sinner be exalted unto, than to be thus intimately and indissolubly united unto the Son of God, the perfection whereof is the glory which we hope and wait for, John 17:22-23. Saith David, in an earthly, temporary concern, “What am I, and what is my father’s family, that I should be son-in-law unto the king, being a poor man, and lightly esteemed?” How much more may a sinner say, ‘What am I, poor, sinful dust and ashes, one that deserves to be lightly esteemed by the whole creation of God, that I should be thus united unto the Son of God, and thereby become his son by adoption!’This is honor and glory unparalleled. And all the grace that ensues receives its worth, its dignity, and use from hence. Therefore are the graces and the works of believers excellent, because they are the graces and works of them that are united unto Christ. And as without this men can have no inward, effectual, saving grace; so whatever outward privileges they may lay hold of or possess, they are but stolen ornaments, which God will one day strip them naked of, unto their shame and confusion.

Thirdly, It is the first and principal grace, in respect of causality and efficacy. It is the cause of all other graces that we are made partakers of; they are all communicated unto us by virtue of our union with Christ.

Hence is our adoption, our justification, our sanctification, our fruitfulness, our perseverance, our resurrection, our glory. Hence is our adoption; for it is upon our receiving of him that this right and privilege is granted unto us of becoming the sons of God, John 1:12. No man can be made the adopted son of God but by an implantation into him who is the natural Son of God, John 15:1-6; John 20:17. And thence also are the consequent privileges that attend that estate; for “because we are sons, God sends forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father,” Galatians 4:6, — that is, to own God, and address ourselves unto him under the consideration of the authority and love of a father. And hence is our justification: for, —

1. Being united unto Christ, we are interested in that acquitment from the condemning sentence of the law which was granted unto himself when he satisfied it to the utmost, Romans 1:3-4; Isaiah 50:8-9. For he was acquitted as the head and surety of the church, and not on his own personal account, for whereas he did no sin, he owed no suffering nor satisfaction to the law; but as “he suffered for us, the just for the unjust,” so he was acquitted as the representative of his whole church. By our union, therefore, unto him, we fall under the sentence of acquitment, which was given out towards whole Christ mystical, head and members.

2. Our union with him is the ground of the actual imputation of his righteousness unto us; for he covers only the members of his own body with his own garments, nor will cast a skirt over any who is not “bone of his bones, and flesh of his flesh.” And so he is “of God made unto us righteousness,” 1 Corinthians 1:30. Hence also is our sanctification, and that both as to its principle in a new spiritual nature, and as unto its progress in fruitfulness and holiness. The principle of it is the Spirit itself of life, holiness, and power. This God sheds on us through Jesus Christ, Titus 3:6, or on the account of our interest in him, according to his promise, John 7:38-39. And for this cause is he said to be “our life,” Colossians 3:4, because in him lie the springs of our spiritual life, which in and by our regeneration, renovation, and sanctification is communicated unto us. And its progress in fruitfulness is from thence alone. To teach this, is the design of the parable used by our Savior concerning the vine and its branches, John 15; for as he showeth our abiding in him to be as necessary unto us, that we may bear fruit, as it is unto a branch to abide in the vine to the same purpose; so without our so doing we are of no more use, in the ways of God, than a branch that is cut off and withered, and cast aside to burn. And men do but labor in the fire, who, in the pursuit of their convictions, endeavor after holiness or the due performance of good works, without deriving strength for them from their relation unto Christ; for all that they do is either nothing in itself, or nothing as unto acceptation with God.

“We are the workmanship of God, created in Christ Jesus unto good works,” Ephesians 2:10.

Becoming new creatures by our inbeing in him, 2 Corinthians 5:17, we are thereby enabled unto those good works, or fruits of holiness, which God hath ordained that we should walk and abound in. And hence on many accounts is our perseverance; for,

1. By virtue hereof we are interested in the covenant, which is the great means of our preservation, God having engaged therein so to write his law in our hearts as that we shall not depart from him, Jeremiah 31:33. Now, this covenant is made with us under this formal consideration, that we are the children and seed of Abraham, which we are not but by our union with Christ, the one seed, to whom the promises of it were originally made, as our apostle declares, Galatians 3:16.

2. His care is peculiar for the members of his body: for as “no man hateth his own flesh, but loveth and cherisheth it,” nor will suffer any of his members to perish, if by any means he can prevent it; so is the heart of Christ towards those that are united to him, and therein are “members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones,” Ephesians 5:29-30. And therefore,

3. The care of giving out supplies unto us for assistance against opposition and strength for duties, which is the grace of perseverance, is incumbent on him. Our resurrection also depends on this union, — I mean, a blessed resurrection in joy and glory unto light and life eternal; for this resurrection is nothing but the entire gathering up together of the whole body of Christ unto himself, whereof he gave us a pledge, example, and assurance, in his own person. So the apostle assures us, Romans 8:11, “If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you” (which, as hath been showed, is the means of our union with him), “he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” And this he expressly proveth at large, 1 Corinthians 15. And this lands us in eternal glory; which, as was observed before, is nothing but the consummation and perfection of this union with Christ. And hence it appears on how many accounts it is the principle and measure of all other graces and privileges whatever.

And we may see hence how great our concernment is to inquire diligently into this foundation of all grace, mercy, and glory. If we fail here, as too many seem to do, we do but run in vain, and build in vain, and boast in vain, for all will be lost and perish. We may do well to remember what became of the house that was built on the sand, when its trial came: it fell, and its fall was great and irreparable. Such will be the end of the profession of men that doth not spring and arise from union with Christ. Many ways there are whereby this may be put to the trial, on which all our peace, satisfaction, and assurance of spirit in the things of God, do depend. I shall only consider that which our apostle here proposeth, and that in the ensuing observation: —

Obs. 2. Constancy and steadfastness in believing is the great touchstone, trial, and evidence of union with Christ, or a participation of him.

So it is here proposed by the apostle. We are “partakers of Christ,” — that is, declared, manifested, and evidenced so to be, — “if we hold fast the beginning of our subsistence in him firm unto the end.” So our Savior, describing the great trials of men’s faith that shall befall them, adds that in the close, as the certain note of discrimination: “He that endureth to the end shall be saved,” Matthew 10:22. It is enduring faith that is true faith, and which evidenceth us indeed to be partakers of Christ. And he gives it as a mark of a false profession, that it “but dureth for a while,”

Matthew 13:21. Further to explain, evince, and improve this truth, it may be observed, —

First, That there are many appearing evidences of union with Christ that may and do fail. The blade is an appearing evidence of well-rooted corn, but it often fails, and that for want of root, Matthew 13:21. Now, by such an appearance I do not intend a pretense, or that there is therein a show made of what is not; only there is something which appears to be that which it is not; or it is somewhat, but not what it appears to be. And so it is a failing sign, not a τεκμήριον, or assured, infallible token. Things of this nature may be such as to satisfy them in whom they are that they are really united unto Christ; but this through their own darkness and mistakes. And they may be such as others may, nay ought to be satisfied in, to the same purpose concerning them, as not being able to evince them to be otherwise by any rule or word of truth. So was it with many that are mentioned in the gospel. They professed themselves to belong unto Christ. This they did on some grounds that were satisfactory to themselves. They were also accepted by others as such, and that judging according to rule and as they ought. And yet, after all, they were either discovered to be hypocrites, or declared themselves apostates. Now, these kinds of signs must extend so far, as [that] there is nothing whereby union with Christ may be evidenced, nothing that is required according to rule thereunto, but there must be something in those who are thus deceived and do deceive that shall make an appearance and resemblance thereof. They must have μόρφωσιν τῆς εὐσεβείας, 2 Timothy 3:5, a complete “delineation of holiness” upon them, or they can have no pretense unto any such plea. They must be able to give an account of a work of conviction, humiliation, illumination, conversion, and of closing with Christ; as also of affections someway suitable unto such a work. If they utterly fail herein, however any out of darkness and self-love may flatter and deceive themselves, yet others have a rule to judge them by. But this now we have in daily experience, as there was the same also from the first preaching of the gospel, — men may give such an account of the work of the grace of God in them as themselves may believe to be saving, and such as others who have reason to be concerned in them may rest in and approve; in this apprehension they may walk in a course of profession many days, it may be all their days, and yet at last be found utter strangers from Christ. But yet this happens not from the nature of the thing itself, as though our union with Christ in this life were absolutely indiscernible, or at least attended with such darkness and inextricable difficulties, as that it is impossible to make a true and undeceiving judgment thereof; but mistakes herein proceed from the blindness of the minds of men, and the deceitfulness of sin, with some secret inclination to rest in self or sin, that is in them. And these are such effectual causes of self-deceivings in this matter, that the Scripture abounds in commands and cautions for our utmost diligence in our search and inquiry, whether we are made partakers of Christ or no, or whether his Spirit dwell in us or no: which argue both the difficulty of attaining an assured confidence herein, as also the danger of our being mistaken, and yet the certainty of a good issue upon the diligent and regular use of means unto that purpose; for, —

Secondly, There may be certain and undeceiving evidences of a present participation of Christ; or, which is all one, men may have a certainty sufficient at present to support and comfort them in their obedience, and which in the issue will neither fail them nor make them ashamed, that they are “partakers of Christ.” And this in our passage must necessarily be briefly confirmed. We speak of them who are really believers, who have received saving faith as a gift from God. “Now faith is ἐλπιζομένων ὑπόστασις, πραγμάτων ἔλεγχος οὐ βλεπομένων,” Hebrews 11:1. It is that which gives subsistence unto the things believed in our minds, and is such an argument of them as will not deceive. There is nothing can possibly give the mind a more undeceiving assurance than that which causeth its object to subsist in it, which unites the mind and the truth believed in one subsistence. This faith doth in spiritual things. Hence our apostle ascribes unto it, as its effect, παῤῥησίαν καὶ προσαγωγὴν ἐν πεποιθήσει, Ephesians 3:12, — a “grounded boldness,” with a“confident trust;” which are the highest expressions of the mind’s assurance. And if this be not enough, he asserts a πληροφορία, as that which it may be regularly improved into, Hebrews 6:11; Hebrews 10:22; that is,such a persuasion as fills the mind with all the assurance that the nature of it is capable of. For as a ship can have no impression from the wind further than it is able to receive in its sails, no more are we capable of any impression of the certainty of divine truths or things believed other than the nature of our minds can admit of; which is, that there must still be an allowance of some doubts and fears, by reason of its own imperfection. But if the expressions before used may fail us, it is certain that we can be certain of nothing, — no, not of this that we are certain of nothing; for they are expressions of the highest certainty and assurance that the mind of man is capable of. It is, then, in t